Soapbox Derby II scheduled in Dunsmuir, south Siskiyou challenge issued

Richard DuPertuis
Flanked by protective bodies, little Thomas Crago VIII of Rogue River, Oregon tries out his steel wheels on the course at the Dunsmuir Dogwood Daze Soapbox Derby Saturday, May 26, 2012.

Dunsmuir has scheduled a second soapbox derby for Saturday, Sept. 1 to feature homemade downhill racers in the Downtown Historic District.

Derby organizer Big Dave Keisler says this one will be better than last spring's Dogwood Daze run.

To make the derby as safe as he can, Keisler said he will hold a free tune-up clinic for race cars the Saturday before, Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. in the Dunsmuir City Park parking lot. He also structured the race to cull poorer drivers.

"We'll have eliminations in the morning – two crashes and you're out," he said Monday. "Then in the afternoon, the seasoned kids will race against each other."

The afternoon races will run two contestants down the hill at the same time. He said the tournament will end with a run between the top two fastest racers.

The May 26 derby ran southward down Sacramento Avenue, a steep, curved stretch of road from the post office to Pine Street. Racers launched one at a time, and many crashed, and some drivers received minor injuries.

This time, the hill will be straight and flatter. Racers will roll northward on Sacramento Avenue, beginning at the mural near Branstetter and ending in the flat before Cedar.

Thursday, the Dunsmuir City Council agreed to close Sacramento Avenue for the event from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., according to city manager Brenda Bains. Traffic will be diverted at Branstetter and at Cedar.

Keisler said traffic will be directed across Butterfly Bridge between runs.

Entry fees for the Dunsmuir Labor Day Derby are $5 for children up to age 15, and $25 for adults. Entrants can compete for prizes in one of four categories: Mini, 3 to 6 years; Junior, 7 to 11; Teens, 12 to 15; and Adults, 16 and up.

Keisler said there will be three additional categories where racers can win special prizes for heats between family or friends, or for the funniest racers rolling side by side. The entry fee for the special categories is an additional $5 per race.

Keisler said proceeds from the event will go toward next year's car clinics, which he envisions as a repeat of the four weekly gatherings in the city park lot that preceded this year's Dogwood Daze event. For the pre-Labor Day clinic, he'll check to make sure existing cars are roadworthy.

"We'll inspect the cars, check the tires and brakes," he said. "Some of the kids may have grown, so we'll lengthen the [steering] ropes and adjust the seats."

He said new cars can be built at this clinic, but only if aspiring racers bring along the parts for their cars.

"We don't have any money for materials this time, but if they contact me ahead of time, I can tell them what they need to bring," said Keisler. "Any kid from any community can race."

He issues a challenge to Mount Shasta, Weed and McCloud, "Come on down. Bring your cars. Show us what you got."

For those who would like to donate funds for next year's clinics, Keisler has set up a fund at the Dunsmuir branch of US Bank. He invites anyone with questions to contact him at 925-9365.