Image courtesy of The Queen Mary.
It’s time to feel the inertia and revel in a bit of nostalgia as the All-American Soap Box Derby makes its formal Long Beach racing debut along the Queen Mary’s perimeter.
Come August 23 and 24, a special track will be devised for young men and women between 8 and 17 years old to compete in multiple classes, including a novice class for first-time racers.
“We are planning for 30 to 50 dedicated derby racers, as well as up to 200 drivers in our ‘try-out’ program,” said Johanna Felix of the Queen Mary. “If this ‘test’ event goes well, we will make this a yearly competition.”
And for Queen Mary’s General Manager John Jenkins, it is outright baffling that a racing-centric city such as Long Beach, home to the Grand Prix, lacks the classic race that started back in 1934.
"Walk the pits of any major racing event and you're likely to meet a former Soap Box Derby racer,” Jenkins said. “The same can be said of the automakers and automotive specialty parts industry, where many innovators and executives first sat behind the wheel of a soap box car. With Long Beach hosting the Grand Prix each year, we thought it was time to create a family-oriented racing event. What better than soap box racing?"
Dubbed The Queen’s Cup, the race is part of the larger national Derby trail where avid soap-boxers, using only gravity as fuel, have (and will) rack up points to head to and compete in the final big race in Akron, Ohio, the state where soap box racing originated in the States. The 150-foot track will essentially be set up from the Mary’s Village to the ship in the parking lot just south of the main entrance, starting from eight feet in the air and then sloping down.
According to Jenkins, the Queen Mary hosted a series of social events that surrounded the Grand Prix—and it is that lost spirit that the Queen Mary hopes to recapture.
"It is part of the motivating factor for this event: connecting with that Grand Prix public and giving some focus to the most elementary form of motor sports,” Jenkins said. “In the early days of the Grand Prix the Queen Mary hosted and accommodated the famous racing drivers of the time. The Mary was central to visitors' overall Long Beach experience. The Queen's Cup Derby will return some of that motor-sports magic to the ship—although quieter and serving a younger audience.”
This event is organized by the California Family Soap Box Derby Association, and will draw racers and attendees from Northern California, the greater LA area, as well as San Diego and Las Vegas, according to Felix.
The race and the family activities that day will be organized by the Queen Mary, and will be free.