It was a beautiful day in Narva on Saturday June 6, drawing out large crowds for the 7th Annual Soap Box Derby. The derby is an American tradition that has become a staple of the annual Narva City Days, which has helped foster greater cooperation between the U.S. Embassy in Estonia and the City of Narva, the two sponsors of the event.
“The Soap Box Derby is an event that is both family-friendly and exiting for the entire community. It brings together traditions from our two cultures which can forge bonds between Estonians and Americans,” said U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer Brad Hurst.
As the crowd of over 2000 spectators gathered around the starting line, the racers started prepping for their run down the hill. There were 11 brave teams, who raced their homemade cars, including 4 teams of U.S. soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, of Ft. Stewart, Georgia, and 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, of Grafenwohr Army Base, Germany. They are currently training at Tapa Military Base.
As the soldiers and the other participants completed their last minute preparations, the crowd admired the homemade vehicles that each team worked diligently to create. From a car design inspired by the movie Cool Runnings to a car honoring Lightning McQueen from Cars, there was an impressive line-up of vehicles ready to race.
As race time fast approached, the music grew, pumping up the crowd and the participants. Then the first car was off! As each car hurtled down the hill, the crowd responded with smiles and laughter, enjoying the thrill of the race as much as the drivers.
“It was scary. I was screaming the whole way down,” said Pfc. Michael T. Goff, a driver with Anvil Troop 1/91 CAV. After the last car crossed the finish line, the crowd headed down the hill to meet the drivers and admire the cars up close.
All participants received recognition and a prize for taking part in the race, but awards were given out in three categories: most technically perfect soap box, youngest participant, and most original entry.