Top Thrills (and Spills) of Seattle's Red Bull Soapbox Race

Yesler Way is torn asunder by home-made vehicles speeding towards… well, various outcomes
Posted August 27, 2014
Photo Credit: Nate Watters

The Red Bull Soapbox Race, a decidedly zany event held all over the world, came to Seattle last weekend. Around 46,000 spectators lined both sides of Yesler Way in Pioneer Square to watch 36 teams--strapped into homemade, gravity-powered vehicles that looked just as crazy as their drivers are--brave the steepest course in Red Bull Soapbox history.

Hailing from all over Washington, the teams were each challenged to create a themed derby car and perform a comical skit before shoving their rig down six blocks of Yesler Way’s obstacle-laden downhill plunge, making a hairpin banked turn and crossing the finish line.

This year’s winners all came from Washington: Nickerson Street Saloon’s Rainier Rocket (pictured below) took first, with a time of 34.2 seconds. The team was comprised of professional engineers and machinists, who had competed last time the Soapbox Race came to Seattle in 2007. They made the fastest track time that year, but were not the overall winners. “After taking second place in 2007, this [year’s win] felt absolutely amazing,” driver Brad Tibbs said of his team’s sweet, sweet redemption.

Photo Credit: Garth Milan

Coming in second place was Bertha’s Last Stand from Machias,at 34.7 seconds. MJ and the Blackfish from Ridgefield (pictured below) took third with a time of 39.4 seconds.

Photo Credit: Garth Milan

Fast track times are all well and good, but many teams put speed second to entertainment value. Case in point: Team Runaway Bride from Bothell, who took home the People’s Choice Award.

Photo Credit: Garth Milan

The Single Shot Simians, although they didn’t place, provided both speed and entertainment. Members Danny Haymond, Dan Baretich, Anthony Garzzona and Aaron Reinke (self-described as "the muscle," "the looks," "the wild card" and "the brains") all work at downtown Seattle-based Taphandles--designing and manufacturing, well, tap handles. As humorous and tech-savvy Seattleites, they decided to poke fun at our city’s coffee addiction. Dressed as plaid-clad monkeys, they worshipped their java-monolith of a derby car a-la 2001: A Space Odyssey before driving it (a tribute to what drives this town?) down the course. And with a track time of 42.3 seconds, the car proved this team wasn’t monkeying around, after all.

Photo Credit: Garth Milan

Without a doubt, the best thing about the event was the live-action madness itself, and we'd be cruel to deprive you of that. Take a peek at the highlights as they unfolded on Sunday.

Well done, Seattle. You proved your innovative spirit, your team spirit and that you may have indulged in too many spirits prior to the race. And let this event be a lesson to you: building your own vehicles, while cost effective, is likely not the best way to improve traffic congestion.