Max Denning

Just two months ago, Cove resident Sam Delaney visited the Cove City Council to ask permission to host an official soap box derby rally. This past weekend it became a reality.

Nearly 20 riders participated in the first annual Blue Mountain Dash Soap Box Derby Rally Race, spending Saturday and Sunday racing down Cove’s Haefer Lane. Delaney estimated five racers were from out of town and about 13 racers were from the Cove and La Grande area.

The rally was coordinated through the Oregon Soap Box Derby Association and the All-American Soap Box Derby, a national organization. The races were limited to official AASBD cars, which rally organizers loaned free of charge to those new to the sport.

For four years, Delaney has been taking his 11-year-old son, Reese, up and down the West Coast to soap box derby rallies. He thought it was time to host one locally.

“I thought Eastern Oregon would be very receptive to a soap box derby,” Delaney said. “We have a lot of families in this area with kids,and I thought this was something they would like to participate in.”

Delaney said approximately 10 to 12 of the kids were racing for the first time.

“It’s one thing to explain how it works, but to actually see it firsthand was really valuable,” Delaney said. “The feedback we got from people was that it was a really fun event.”

David Siddle drove his 8-year-old daughter, Bella, nearly six hours from Camino Island, Washington, to take part in the Cove rally. Siddle said Bella has been competing in races since last spring and is attempting to qualify for the national competition in Akron, Ohio, in July. Bella’s cousins, who are 16 and 20 years old, have been competing in soap box derby races for years and often go to Akron for the national rally.

Siddle said he has seen Bella become more outgoing because of the soap box derby rallies.

“It’s given her a lot of confidence in other little things she does,” he said. “She used to be kind of shy. It’s just been great all the way around.”

Bella, whose nickname, “Bellita,” is inscribed on the side of her soap box car, “can’t get enough” of soap box derby rallies, Siddle said. This season, which began in July, they have already traveled to three rallies and are planning on making the trek to Las Vegas for a race in November.

Another father-daughter tandem from Camino Island who made the trip to Cove were Rob Inman and his 11-year-old daughter, Addison. Addison also began racing last spring, and in her first year took first place in her division in the region and competed at nationals in Akron.

Addison said she has enjoyed soap box derby racing since she began doing it.

“You don’t want to stop after you do it your first time,” she said.

While at nationals, Addison met other girls from her region and formed friendships. They call themselves the Soap Box Derby Girlz.

“We have five girls in our group, (and) we go to every race we can find,” Addison said.

Inman said he likes the competition aspect of racing.

“Plus, they’re learning a valuable skill: how to drive a car straight down the road,” he said.

Addison said awards aren’t everything.

“It’s not about winning trophies,” she said. “It’s about having sportsmanship, and being nice and having fun. That’s what I’m all about.”