What is an Adult Soapbox Derby?

Soapbox Derbies have been around since the 1930’s. Traditionally the competitions would involve local youths racing hand-built, strictly gravity powered cars for prizes. The purpose was to teach kids valuable skills while having fun designing, building, and racing their cars. While soapbox derbies were a hugely popular event for youngsters for years, an interest in a new modern derby with a twist has sprung up around the country. The adult soapbox derby borrows the concept of days past but these events are geared towards the adults and thrill seekers of all ages! The cars are faster, the designs more intricate, the stakes are higher and the fun is multiplied! Adult soapbox derbies are an environmentally friendly event, the cars are powered only by the creative minds that build them!

Photo Courtesy: Nevada City Soapbox Derby
Photo Courtesy: Nevada City Soapbox Derby

Adult Soapbox Derbies are growing in popularity throughout the country. Some of these are the Nevada City Adult Soapbox Derby, the Johnson County Soapbox Classic, the Marble Falls Soapbox Classic, and the largest and longest running event so far – the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby!

It is time to bring an Adult Soapbox Derby to the Midwest. Why Muscatine? Muscatine has a long, rich history with traditional soapbox derbies running from 1937 to the mid 1960’s. The City has the perfect hills and is filled with creative talented individuals. It is time to bring the fun back- the first annual Muscatine Adult Soapbox Derby will be held in 2016. The directors are currently deep into the planning phase and will be announcing more details so make sure to check back!


Who benefits from Adult Soapbox Derbies?

Well… the simple answer is.. EVERYONE! Race junkies and creative designers will benefit from the two competition classes; Speed and Art. Spectators will be wowed by their friends and neighbors screaming down the hill competing for the speed prize and dazzled by the incredible designs in the Art division. The community as a whole benefits by having something fun and creative event to call their own and draw visitors to Muscatine. Similar events in smaller cities have drawn crowds of 5000+ on their first years! All proceeds will be donated to a local cause after the day of the race!


A Need Fulfilled

The Muscatine Adult Soapbox Derby was conceived to fulfill a need. A need for good, active entertainment catering to young adults and those young at heart in a thriving industrial community. Nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River, Muscatine, Iowa has a population of about 23,000. The city and surrounding area are home to several large corporations that draw a large and diverse workforce. The city has many events throughout the year- some are for children, some are for senior citizens; what is missing is an event to cater to the many young adults or those young at heart. Something enjoyable that participants can get creative with and take pride in. Something bigger for Muscatine.

Enter five members of the Leadership Muscatine class of 2016…

One requirement of the class is to derive, design, and complete a project to better the community. Our group jumped at the idea of a fun event specifically tailored to younger adults. Several ideas were brainstormed and discussed, and due to one member’s YouTube rabbit-hole the idea of a soapbox derby was born. Many months of researching and planning came to follow. Through the help of some new made friends in Nevada City, California and Johnson County, Texas all the details were all worked out and the result…


The first Muscatine Adult Soapbox Derby was a huge success with 30 cars and a crowd estimated at 3,000+!


Year two sees some new faces added to the race committee bringing new ideas to help grow the derby into the best event for fans of all ages!


More to come!





Meet the Race Directors & Committee

  • Josh Onken
  • Tony Kelly
  • Kelsey Hodapp
  • Mike Moyer
  • Matt Wendt
  • Mike Toyne
  • Brian Griffiths
  • Dena Ferreira
  • Jeff Weikert


Follow us for updates!