Baltimore County

Soapbox derby draws crowds, new talent to annual Arbutus event

There was excitement in the air, plenty of red, white and blue on spectators, houses and dogs, and speeding cars along Elm Road on July 4.

Families sat on their front porches, front lawns and even on the curb of the street for the annual Arbutus Soap Box Derby.


That the cars could jump the curb or go off into the crowd added an extra note of danger to the atmosphere, especially since there frequent reminders to stay out of the street.

But all the cars stayed on course, adding a rhythm to the event as the racers sped down the hill and left a trail of turned heads in their wake.


"There was what I call 'patriotic excitement' in the air," said Arbutus Soap Box Organizer TJ Sprankle after the successful Thursday morning running of the annual Fourth of July event. "Everybody did spectacular. There were no accidents, it was a great race."

Sprankle said a combination of having 12 racers this year, four more than last year, and an appearance by the Maryland Independent Soapbox Federation and Incline Trials Society (M.I.S.F.I.T.S.) brought in a bigger crowd than ever before.

"There seemed to be more spectators than previous years," he said on the attraction of the older racers runing in a heat. "There was about 350 (people there)."

Typically, the race only draws between 150 and 200 onlookers, he said the day after the race.

"I think word is catching on," Sprankle said. "And, of course, the M.I.S.F.I.T.S. probably brought in some of their own spectators as well for their one run down the hill, which turned out very well."

He said this year's race also featured a fun, spontaneous race between a car with a 10-inch wheel diameter and a car with a 12-inch wheel diameter

"At the end of the races, when everything was said and done, we decided to do a 10-inch against a 12-inch, which is usually much faster," he said on July 5. "And the 10-inch actually won."

Adding a connection to the race's tradition was an appearance by Ceasar Arca, who took third place in the 12-inch diameter category. He is the great grandson of Paul Arca, who founded the Arbutus race in 1966.


Soap Box Derby Results:Six-inch wheel diameter

First place: Dragan Hornatko (No.20)

Second place: Owen Coffee (No.23)

Third place: Gunner Rippese (No.24)

10-inch wheel diameter:

First place: Sophia Hermann (No.31)


Second place: Payton Sellman (No.33)

Third place: Jayden Wray (No.34)

12-inch wheel diameter

First place: Robert Sawyer (No.41)

Second place: Bree Shaw (No.44)

Third place: Caesar Arca (No.42)


Most creative cars

Robert Sawyer (No.41)

Bree Shaw (No.44)

Monica Herndon and Keith Meisel contributed to this story.