Saturday, May 02, 2009

NASBRA - What a Race!

The Nazareth Adult Soap Box Racing Association held its 2nd Annual event on Saturday, and what a great event!

In many ways the event was like Dick Dastardly's Wacky Races, but instead of racing around the world, these cars shot down a hill at (literally) break-neck speed, some with control, some without.

I make the comparison based on the diversity and character of the entries. There was a barrel cut out to serve as a car, a shopping cart, coffin, "Colonel Klink Special" with air siren, a belly-down, face first, hold tight machine, a Miller Lite Bottle Car, what appeared to be a John Deere Tractor deck converted to a car, many specially fabricated cars, a few test rockets (some more successful than others - but engines were not allowed), wings, no wings, I think we saw everything but a bed on wheels (this was a competitive lot afterall).

I intended to attend and missed last year's event, so this year I had to be sure not to miss it. I was not dissapointed.

I brought both daughters and we had a great time. We arrived right about noon and the first heat had already gone off.

We took a position near Green Street below the start/finish line, but my daughter's quickly noted it was a good location because we could not only watch them race down the hill, but we could see them attempt to slow down and come back, not as easy as it sounds.

As we watched the heats come down the hill, we took pictures and marveled at the myriad of cars. Then with a whoosh, a car blew by very much out of control and rolled over going up the hill. At about the same time, the rest of his heat was crossing the finish line. That car was moving and it was now a shambles with a broken wheel. It did get back in, but struggled afterward with new, smaller tires, in the rear and more than a fair amount of damage to the rest of the vehicle.

As I looked, I saw that there were several hundred people up and down the street. It was a great turnout and the crowd was very enthusiastic during each run down the hill.

It was a great crowd, and there was even a community group selling hotdogs and grill food from a tent on the north side of Prospect.

What surprised me most, was seeing Mario Andretti, waving the checkered flag for each heat. It added an almost surreal element to the event. If it were a movie and you saw Mario working the finish line for a soap box derby event, you'd think, "no way", yet there he was. Not only working the flags, but genuinely watching the competition, congratulating people and taking pictures with drivers and their teams/family members afterward.

He was there for the duration of the event and got to see Rob Leiser drive a replica of Mario's 1969 Indy 500 Winning number 2 go to victory lane once again. Rob's car was unbelievable, and untouchable.

Ron Beiler finished second and Matt Rinker came in third.
Many thanks to all the people who helped make this such a great success. The ambulance corp (was needed, but everyone was okay), police, community groups, volunteers, and community members who came out in support of the program.

And most of all the drivers. What a great mix of people, who not only created, but drove these vehicles down a hill that seemed to start so slowly and as the cars made their way down the speed climbed and climbed until they hit the finish, peaked, and began the incline toward Main Street to slow themselves down. I'm not sure what the top speed was, but these gravity driven cars probably hit mid 30s or more. And did I mention they didn't all have breaks?

1 comment:

Rob said...

It was a great event. Having Mario to see and sign my re-creation of his 69 Indy Car was a thrill. I cary a GPS and it recorded my top speed at 33.6 mph.
Great Story