Soap box derby returns to Cove for fourth year

·2 min read

Sep. 22—COVE — The annual Blue Mountain Dash rolls back into Cove with a full two days of racing down Haefer Lane on Saturday, Sept. 24, and Sunday, Sept. 25.

After years of traveling up and down the West Coast for soap box rallies, Cove resident and race director Sam Delaney brought soap box racing to Eastern Oregon. The inaugural rally in 2018 was the first race in Eastern Oregon, according to Delaney.

"Our goal here is that we're all about sportsmanship," Delaney said.

The Blue Mountain Dash is open to everyone from newcomers to seasoned racers and everyone in between.

The race offers children a fun opportunity to try something new. Race organizers provide instruction on how to operate the cars and also give everyone a practice round before the races begin for the day, Delaney said.

"They pick it up really quickly," he added.

According to Delaney, families travel from all over to compete.

"Some kids take it very seriously," he said. "Like any sport, there is adversity. It teaches kids how to overcome that."

The Blue Mountain Dash rally is coordinated by the Oregon Soap Box Derby Association and the All-American Soap Box Derby, a national organization. There will be two types of races held in Cove this year — stock cars and super stock cars. The main difference between the two races is the age of participants and the weight of the cars, according to the Oregon Soap Box Derby website. The stock car division is for kids ages 7-13, and the combined weight of racer and car cannot exceed 200 pounds. The super stock car division is for older racers — ages 9-18 — and the combined weight limit is 240 pounds.

One of the goals of soap box racing is teaching children how to work cooperatively with others, said Delaney. Kids are expected to work alongside a parent, guardian or mentor to put together the car kits.

Derby cars used to be built from scratch, but according to Delaney, this often presented unfair advantages. Families would invest different amounts of money into the project and bring different skill sets to the design or build process. To ensure a level playing field, cars are now built from kits purchased through International Soap Box Derby.

Racers also work together with a car handler — typically a family member — who assists in bringing the equipment out and getting them set up on the track.

Isabella Crowley is a reporter for The Observer. Contact her at 541-624-6014 or icrowley@lagrandeobserver.com.