Crowds packed along the two lanes leading to H. Lavity Stoutt Community College on Whit Monday, at the end of which sat two tall plywood ramps, each outfitted with a release bar.
With a quick “Go on!” from the announcer, pairs of colourful soapbox cars raced down the track with fans chasing and cheering them on to the finish line.
This weekend’s event marked the return of the soapbox derby for the first time since the 2017 hurricanes, and helped raised funds for the Youth Empowerment Project.
Teams showcased their creativity with cars sporting fun designs, including a fan favourite modelled after the cherry-red race car Lightning McQueen.
One vehicle whizzed down the track on three wheels. Another had flames painted on its sides, and one PVC-pipe-built car took the dubious title of “ugliest soapbox” but also won second place in the overall competition.
The young driver said he felt some nerves the first time he stood at the top of the drop, but after getting past the first run it was no problem. He experienced some technical issues near the end of the day when the corner of his car clipped the kerb, sending some spare parts flying. But he said it was important to him to still finish the derby, which he did with his friends helping push the car back up the track.
For anyone interested in racing next year, he had a few words of advice.
“Always try your best,” he said. “Then whether you win or lose, it doesn’t matter.”
Emotions ran high as the cars flew down the runway – occasionally making an unplanned turn into the grassy side lines.
A team from Island Sizzle took the top prize this year, beating out two dozen other vehicles.
Once the races wound down, visitors snacked on popcorn and hotdogs while milling about the car show on the other side of the track to round out the afternoon.
YEP is a privately funded programme founded in 2007 to provide opportunities and activities for young people in the territory.
The organisation had to temporarily close its doors during the territory-wide shutdown last year but has been able to resume activities. YEP’s summer programme for children ages 8-15 takes place from July 4 to Aug. 31.