“Smooth” ride at 2013 Nevada City soapbox derby | TheUnion.com

“Smooth” ride at 2013 Nevada City soapbox derby

Christopher Rosacker
Staff Writer

While not every entrant into Saturday's third annual Nevada City Adult Soapbox Derby would describe their trip down the Nimrod Street race route as smooth in their homemade contraptions, event organizers described the overall execution of the event that way.

"Our feeling was that this third year, we got it all figured out," said event organizer Rich Bodine. "It ran smooth top to bottom this year."

Not all of the more than 30 derby teams had the same goal Saturday with their creations gauged for either speed or design creativity.

Gary Apple's unmissable Mr. Potato Head garnered the crowd-pleasing prize for best design, and locally built Gravity Wave Racing pushed speeds of 40 mph down the half-mile race route to win the honor of fastest derby, beating San Jose's Rusty Rockets and last year's winner, Plaza Tire.

But the one thing they all had in common was that the afternoon event was all about raising funds for Pioneer Park, which is located along Nimrod Street in Nevada City and which housed all the non-race aspects of the annual gathering.

Bodine has estimated that the 2012 race raised at least $15,000 — triple the first year's total. What this year's total amount raised will be remains to be tallied after vendor contributions and expenses are paid, Bodine said.

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The event featured a dozen vendors of food, treats and beverages and numerous ancillary festivities, such as live music and an open door to the park's pool for attendees to revel in.

"There was definitely a couple thousand people there throughout the day," Bodine said. "Turnout was a little bit lighter this year, but people were coming and going all day. The vendors said business was steady, but lines weren't as big (as last year)."

Some of that could be due to changing the race day from Father's Day weekend, when the 53rd Nevada City Classic bicycle race occurs, to lighten the burden on the city and its volunteers base.

Bodine credited the army of volunteers and scores of sponsors and assisting agencies listed on the derby's website for Saturday's success.

"By the time race happened, it was running smoothly, and I got to be a participant," Bodine said. "Mostly I was just observing."

Only one derby lost control this year, and no one was injured, compared to last year's event in which a crashed derby sent one volunteer to the hospital. Coincidentally, the car that fishtailed into the hay bails in the braking area past the finish line this year was team Explodes on Impact's creation.

This year's race saw an expansion of hay and race course barriers and a change in the derby staging area from the top of the hill to the bottom of the route, as well as some technical changes to facilitating the race itself.

"What we were trying to accomplish at this year's race was to finish on time, that it was safe, that it was fun and that it ran smooth," Bodine said. "We feel like we accomplished that."

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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