Ninth Annual Downhill Derby returns to downtown Sand Springs

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief


The Ninth Annual Downhill Derby soapbox car race was hosted by the Sand Springs Rotary Club in downtown today. 

The tradition began in 2008 under the leadership of the now defunct Sand Springs Civitan Club and was put on in the heart of downtown on Main Street. The Great Sand Springs Downhill Soapbox Derby Race was an immediate success with 131 entries in what was expected to be a small local event. Former mayor Bob Walker is credited with first suggesting a soapbox derby in a Civitan Club meeting. 

In 2011 the festivities were moved to Charles Page High School, with the vendors in the parking lot, and the race track on Adams Road. The move added a half-block to the course track and eliminated the need for a sand trap at the end of the course. That year also saw the addition of the "Putting Smoke on the Track" barbecue and grilling competition. The event attracted more than 4,000 spectators and participants. 

2012 saw the addition of hot-air balloons to the competition.

In 2013 the Civitan Club asked the City of Sand Springs to take over the event

In 2014 the City of Sand Springs cancelled the event a month beforehand and two weeks before signups closed, citing low registration. 

In May of 2015 it was announced that the Sand Springs Rotary Club would be taking over the tradition. The event was billed the "Eighth Annual Downhill Derby," despite not having occurred the previous year. The festivities returned to the Triangle area of downtown.

This year had low spectator turnout and participation, but still drew some creative cars and excited youth competitors. 

Macen Henry won the Kids Novelty division in a large boxy blue car, followed by Shaun Allen in a red bullet-shaped vehicle, and Garrett Kennedy piloted a long hot-rod shaped two-seater. 

Greg Kennedy won the Adult Novelty competition in the two-seater he shared with his son with a time of 32.06 seconds. Sandy Cox came in second in the Cecil and Sons car with a close 32.16 time, followed by Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith in third. 

In the Kids Competitive division, the creativity was waved for speedier designs. Caleb Diggs won first place with a time of 30.15 seconds, followed by Cheyenne Wyatt in 30.68. Shaun Allen took third place.

The Adult Competitive champion was Thad Davis of Team Skunk Works who finished in 28.62, a full second ahead of Jon Diggs at 29.69. Third place went to Christina Wyatt.

Several food vendors were on hand, including Livi Lee's Donuts, Rib Crib, and Barnyard Blizzard Shaved Ice. Mission Christian Church was also there handing out free water bottles to spectators.