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SF’s “Soapbox Derby” Returns for First Time Since 1978

Artist-designed soapbox cars return to race down McLaren Park after 44 years on April 10
By - posted 2/15/2022 No Comment

Witness Bay Area creativity in overdrive when SFMOMA’s Soapbox Derby returns to McLaren Park for the first time in more than 40 years. The original artists’ derbies from the 1970s are legendary events in our history. Between the two races in 1975 and 1978, the museum commissioned cars and trophies from more than 200 artists — including Ruth Asawa, Robert Arneson, Ant Farm, Viola Frey, Mike Henderson, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Richard Shaw, and Carlos Villa — and thousands gathered to watch the races unfold.

Experience the excitement for yourself on April 10 when a new crew coasts down the curving hill of McLaren Park’s Shelley Drive. Each racer gets their star turn on the track as they descend one-by-one and compete for artist-designed trophies and delightfully unusual accolades, such as “Most Colorful” and “Most Amorphous.” If their art-on-wheels can roll, steer, and stop, anything is possible.

SFMOMA’s Soapbox Derby at McLaren Park is free and open to the public. Expect fun for all ages including music, food, family activities, and more. Stay tuned to meet this year’s racers—including some familiar faces from derbies’ past.

The race begins at 11 a.m. with each racer getting their star turn on the track as they descend one-by-one in their custom-made gravity-powered vehicles, competing for trophies designed by artists such as Soapbox Derby alums Chip Lord and Mike Henderson, as well as new participants such as Bay Area artists Liz Hernández, Leah Rosenberg and Matt Goldberg.

Those designing custom soapbox cars for the 2022 event include dozens of local artists, educators, students and community organizations like Avila Rose Signs, City College of San Francisco, Girls Garage, John O’Connell High School, Adam Savage and Lindsey White. Musical performances by Science Band (comprised of musicians from the project Salami Rose Joe Louis) and DJ sets will take place throughout the day. The dynamic announcers for SFMOMA’s Soapbox Derby will be Pendarvis Harshaw, the host of KQED-FM’s Rightnowish, and Kumasi Aaron, ABC7 News Bay Area Morning Anchor.

Local residents interested in building and racing their own soapbox cars in the derby are encouraged to submit their design to SFMOMA’s Soapbox Derby open call by 11 p.m. PST, Thursday, February 24. Each open call winner will receive a $1,000 honorarium to construct their soapbox car and ride it down the hill at McLaren Park.

The 2022 Soapbox Derby
April 10, 2022 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McLaren Park, San Francisco
– Race begins at 11 a.m. Trophy ceremony commences 15 minutes after the last timed trial.