CommunityPress ReleasesWe Are Stanwood Camano June 23, 2021

Racers find fun at the soap box derby race


Virginia Sanita popped out of her soap box derby car wearing a giant smile.

“I love this. Just love it,” the 9-year-old said. “I’m usually nervous at the top, but I’m exploding with excitement while I’m going down the track.”

Sanita was one of 76 racers to battle two-by-two down the derby track Saturday at Arrowhead Ranch on Camano Island. Though she placed eighth in the stock division, she also earned the derby’s largest trophy: the Harry Brown Sportsmanship Award for demonstrating true sportsmanship throughout the day.

The 14th annual Windermere Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby returned this year after COVID-19 forced the popular race into the pits. Nearly 1,500 people returned to Arrowhead Ranch this year to watch a full day of racing at the largest derby west of the Mississippi River.

At the end of a long day on the track, Camden Tatarian won the stock division title, and Avery Rochon took the super stock division trophy. Their prize? A trip to the annual All-American Soap Box Derby Race Week, taking place July 24, where racers compete for the title of world champion and more than $36,000 in college scholarships.

“We believe that this was the best year yet,” said Marla Heagle, who with husband Randy owns the local Windermere offices. They are the derby’s lead sponsor.

“The year off gave us time to add a few improvements to the ranch,” she said of the upgrades that included a silo at the base of the track for announcer Ed Bednarczyk and statistician John Swanson. “The Arrowhead Ranch also grew from 20 to 50 acres in 2020, so we were able to have onsite parking, making it easier for spectators, racers and their families to navigate. The food trucks were a new addition to the event also, and all of them sold out.”

But all eyes were on the track, where racers said the key to speed is fairly simple.

“The trick is to look out as far as you can to go as straight as you can,” said Leo Saylor, 10, who was participating in his fifth derby event. “Oh, and never look at the person you’re racing.”

Cyler Granston, 7, traveled to Camano from Solana Beach, California, for his first-ever race.

“The speed! First time down, I went faster than I thought,” he said. “But each time down it gets easier.”

The local soap box derby event incorporates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, while encouraging active mentorship and family collaboration throughout the derby car-building process. Most racers and family members have spent the past few weeks attending driving and building clinics in addition to working on their cars, many of which are paid for by local businesses.

In the stock division, the combined weight of the stock car, wheels and driver cannot exceed 200 pounds. For the super stock division, the combined weight cannot exceed 240 pounds. Stock division drivers must be ages 7-13; super stock drivers must be ages 9-17.

Later this summer, Arrowhead Ranch will host the Summer Classic Rally Races, a stop on the soap box rally circuit where racers can advance to Akron by accumulating points in a series of races.

About 200 volunteers helped make the derby possible, led by volunteer coordinator Myra Reinhard from Coastal Community Bank, Heagle said.

The derby’s two largest trophies — the Harry Brown Sportsmanship Award and the Pat Richardson Positive Impact Award — are named after long-time volunteers.

Brown, who died in 2017, volunteered at the local derby since it started, helping with everything from assisting a family build a car to arriving at 4:30 a.m. on race day to put on the event, Heagle said.

Richardson, who died in 2019, was enormously generous to so many causes in the community — especially those that had a positive impact on kids, including giving his time, money, and equipment to help the race, Heagle said.

Derby racer Titus Placzyk won the Pat Richardson Positive Impact Award for encouraging other racers and helping the volunteers without being asked.


Stock division

1st: Camden Tatarian

2nd: Priscilla Siddle

3rd: Adelaide Holmes

4th: Titus Placzek

5th: Ian Shrock

6th: Ryko Falk

7th: Timmy McCann

8th: Virginia Sanita

Super Stock division

1st: Avery Rochon

2nd: Sydney Jarvis

3rd: Bellita Siddle

4th: Reid Timmerman

5th: Karsten Nichol

6th: Isabelle Placzek

7th: Naomi Placzek

8th: Lil Swanson

Read the full blog HERE

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.