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Marble Falls Soapbox Classic is June 15-17

Marble Falls Soapbox Classic racing is all weekend long with the finals on Sunday. Staff photo by Jared Fields

MARBLE FALLS — Eight years ago, as he sat in his soapbox derby car atop the Third Street hill in downtown Marble Falls, butterflies churned in Taylor Smith’s stomach. Although he had stood on that hill with the car the year before at the inaugural Marble Falls Soapbox Classic, one thing had changed.

Smith was in the driver’s seat this time.

“I was very nervous,” Smith said. “The car I was in had actually won it the year before, but the driver who was in it for the win couldn’t make it, so I was driving.”

However, when the starter dropped the flag, the butterflies flew away, and Smith focused on the race. It didn’t matter if he won or lost because the name of the game was having fun.

And, keeping the derby car on the best path toward the finish line.

The Marble Falls Soapbox Classic returns Friday-Sunday, June 15-17, which is Father’s Day weekend, as racers find out who’s the fastest. The course starts at the intersection of Main and Third streets and plummets down Third.Smith is looking forward to the event.

“Racing in the derby makes you feel like a kid again,” he said. “It’s such an adrenaline rush, making it down the hill after you’ve built this car.”

The Marble Falls event is an adult soapbox derby, so the cars really pick up speed down the Third Street hill. While it looks easy, letting gravity do the work, Smith said it takes quite a lot of concentration to keep the car in line.

He got his start in the soapbox derby during the first one nine years ago, but not as the driver.

“A friend talked me into being a pusher — in that 100-degree heat,” Smith said with a laugh.

Since then, the derby has added a ramp so pushers aren’t need.

The following year, Smith made his move from pusher to racer and looks forward to the event each year.

“I’m a banker, so this isn’t something I’d regularly do,” he said. “But getting on that ramp and going down the hill, that’s so fun.”

A great thing about the event is it’s open to anyone willing to build a car. Smith said you’ll see cars built with thousands of dollars and others done for twenty bucks, but they all gather on Main and race.

“It’s a culture of build it, bring it, race it,” Smith said.

The ninth annual Marble Falls Soapbox Classic starts at 6 p.m. Friday with the Show and Shine and parade. Racing gets rolling at 7 p.m. and continues until midnight.

The racers return for more Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. with the finals on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.The event is spectator-friendly as it’s free to cheer on the racers.

“It’s a great family event,” Taylor said. “There’s no cost to watch, so you can bring out the family for a great evening or day.”

The Derby Hat Contest is 2 p.m. Saturday. It’s $5 to enter. Registration is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Proceeds benefit CASA for the Highland Lakes Area. Staff photo by Jared Fields


There also will be vendors set up on Main Street. If you’re the creative type, or just love “fashionable” headwear, consider entering the Derby Hat Contest at 2 p.m. Saturday. Registration for the contest is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the National Adult Soapbox Derby Association trailer at the top of the course. It’s only $5 to enter, and proceeds go to CASA for the Highland Lakes Area.

In fact, the entire derby benefits CASA, an organization that provides a voice to abused and neglected children in the court system.

After the racing wraps up Saturday night, stick around for the street dance.

Whether you race or just come to watch, the Marble Falls Soapbox Classic is one of those “must-do” events.

“I’ve made friends for life that are from all around the country because of the derby,” Smith added. “Just come on out and check it out. It’s a great community event that’s grown over the years into one of the best things around.”

Go to adultsoapboxderby.com for more information.

For more competitive events, check out our Highland Lakes Races guide.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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