When the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby got canceled in May, it was among the early indications that summer in the city would not look the same this year.
Every August, thousands of spectators crowd Mount Tabor to watch makeshift carts shaped like giant pencils, slices of cake and Whack-a-Mole machines zip down the mountain, hopefully making it to the finish line before stalling out or careening off course.
It's one of the events that signifies the season—which is why Jason de Parrie-Turner and his team couldn't let it pass without doing something. His idea? Go small.
On Aug. 15, dozens of cars with the rough dimensions of a tissue box will speed down a miniature track designed to mimic the twists and turns of the Tabor course, controlled only by gravity and the ingenuity of their creators.
They're calling it the Shoebox Derby. It'll be held in an undisclosed outdoor location and streamed on YouTube and Facebook. Will it work? Who knows? But chaos is part of the point.
"That's what the race is about," de Parrie-Turner says. "It's anything goes."
It's hard to predict what will happen, but we at least know a little about what we'll see. Below, four racers tell us about their rigs.
Car name: Quarantine Cruiser
Racers: The Borffmanns
"It's a couch on wheels, honoring the very idea of a Shoebox Derby as a COVID alternative to the Soapbox Derby. Featuring sourdough starter, Netflix, a pandemic puppy, and family snuggles."
Car name: Rainbow Cake
Racers: Kyle Bell, Dan Casey and Rob Ducey
"Team Rainbow Cake is a collection of Laika animation professionals inspired by the timeless art of 99-year-old Wayne Thiebaud, the greatest dessert artist of all time. We are fully prepared for the glory that awaits and fingers are crossed that there will be an actual cake at the finish line."
Car name: DJ Manteaa
Racers: Drew and Ellen Flint
"The car is a scaled-down version of the car we planned for the Soapbox Derby, which would have had onboard puppeteers operating the praying mantis's head and legs. The mantis driver of the Shoebox Derby car will be animated, and there is a working sound system on board the car. Wheels are yo-yos."
Car name: Reflectious
Racer: Tyler Fuqua
"I carved Reflectious from a single piece of aluminum, which I polished to a mirror finish. Being a huge sci-fi fan, I wanted my car to look like it was straight from the future. I have no idea how it will roll down the track, but I'm pretty sure it's gonna look good doing it."
STREAM IT: The PDX Shoebox Derby streams 1-5 pm on Saturday, Aug. 15. Go to pdxshoeboxderby.com for streaming links.