Tech team member Ron Manz gives the thumbs up as driver Tabby Holms hits the desired weight of 240 pounds in her soap box derby car during weighing at the barn June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Tech team member Ron Manz gives the thumbs up as driver Tabby Holms hits the desired weight of 240 pounds in her soap box derby car during weighing at the barn June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Brand-new track, permanent Camano home for Soap Box Derby

Races involving 73 cars are on Saturday at a converted ranch where striped pavement belongs to kids.

CAMANO ISLAND — The cars sat in rows inside a big red barn, recently renovated.

It was quiet at the ranch-turned-racetrack last week.

It won’t be on derby day.

The cars were built by drivers ages 7 to 17, supervised by parents, grandparents, friends and volunteers. They’ll be raced in the 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby on Saturday. Two winners from the day-long event head to Akron, Ohio, for a national competition in July.

The Stanwood-Camano race has drawn hundreds of spectators in past years.

This year, instead of speeding down the slope of a closed city street in Stanwood, the racers will hurtle down a freshly paved track on an idyllic Camano Island property. A double yellow line splits the new black pavement into two lanes from the top of the hill to the end of the track, beyond which lies a green field and a ridge of trees.

Amelia Allen (left) looks down at the track as she races another driver in unweighted practice soap box derby cars June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Amelia Allen (left) looks down at the track as she races another driver in unweighted practice soap box derby cars June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Randy and Marla Heagle, who own the local Windermere Real Estate offices and started the event a decade ago, always had a vision to build a permanent home for the Soap Box Derby. They wanted someplace that wouldn’t inconvenience neighbors and traffic with a road closure, and where drivers could practice more often. They also see opportunities for more events, including regional rally races and team building activities for adults.

The couple bought the 20-acre property at 615 Arrowhead Road two years ago and began fixing it up. The Arrowhead Ranch was in rough shape, Randy Heagle said. They hauled four bins of garbage out from the barn, which has been transformed into derby headquarters.

Last week, workers were finishing putting in guardrail along the track.

Parents and kids prep soap box derby cars outside the barn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Parents and kids prep soap box derby cars outside the barn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“I just want to build a place that helps give kids memories, and when they look back at being a kid on Camano Island, this is one of those hero moments,” Marla Heagle said.

They started the derby because they wanted an event that brought together kids, businesses and the community. Ten years from now, Randy Heagle pictures derby cars on display in nearly every local business so when people arrive in Stanwood, they know it’s a derby town.

There are 73 cars for this year’s race, up from 24 the first year. Businesses sponsor many of the cars so that children can participate regardless of family income. Some private donors also have offered to cover the entry fee for children who otherwise couldn’t afford it, Randy Heagle said. Attending as a spectator is free.

There aren’t many Soap Box Derby races in the Pacific Northwest that can qualify a racer for the championship in Akron. This is the only one in or near Snohomish County. One local driver has placed sixth nationally and hauled home a large, shiny trophy.

As her grandfather, Rich McCalib, wipes down the car, Alexie Crabtree removes a decal from her soap box car. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

As her grandfather, Rich McCalib, wipes down the car, Alexie Crabtree removes a decal from her soap box car. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“The kids can practice a lot more now,” Randy Heagle said. “Our goal is hopefully in the next five years we get an Akron champion.”

They’ve spent about $125,000 on building the track and derby headquarters, the Heagles said. A little more than $30,000 has been donated, and they’ve received contributions such as free use of heavy equipment. They are accepting donations at gofundme.com/buildatrack.

They’ve been working with the nonprofit Stanwood Camano Community Resource Center and dozens of volunteers. Windermere employees volunteer with the derby as their annual service project, and former drivers have offered to come back and help, too. One wants to do an Eagle Scout project at the new track.

Micah Knowles, 10, gets ready for his first test ride in a practice soap box derby car on the track. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Micah Knowles, 10, gets ready for his first test ride in a practice soap box derby car on the track. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“I think of all the people who have given time, effort, encouragement,” Randy Heagle said. “We truly couldn’t do it without them.”

On Saturday, people can bring camp chairs, pop-up tents and blankets, Marla Heagle said, and the easiest parking is at nearby Utsalady Elementary School.

The derby starts at 9 a.m. and is expected to continue all day.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

The Snohomish County Jail is pictured on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Woman, 43, dies inside Snohomish County Jail, sixth death since September

Corrections staff found the inmate unresponsive in her single-occupancy cell Wednesday. It was unclear how she died.

Port officials and future tenants shovel some earth while participating in a groundbreaking ceremony for Restaurant Row at the Port of Everett on Tuesday, July 23, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Here’s the scoop on sweet additions to Everett waterfront

Two new buildings at Port of Everett will house new froyo shop, breakfast cafe, fish market, taproom and wine bar.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Gold Bar in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
US 2 reopened near Gold Bar after crash

The crash Wednesday afternoon at Reiter Road east of Gold Bar caused minor injuries. Traffic was backed up a half-mile.

A transit rider steps onto a Community Transit bus on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
What route should new Smokey Point bus route take through Marysville?

By 2029, the Gold Line will connect Everett Station to Smokey Point. Community Transit wants your input on the exact path.

Everett
Suspected impaired driver strikes patrol car on I-5 near Everett

No injuries were reported in the crash on northbound I-5 between Everett and Marysville early Wednesday morning.

Public Works Senior Engineer Randy Loveless looks out over Everett’s 101-year-old reservoir at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Reservoir 3 Replacement Project on Tuesday, July 23, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
With looming earthquake threat, Everett breaks ground on $80M reservoirs

Contractors will replace a 100-year-old reservoir east of Evergreen Way with two smaller ones.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.