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PHOTOS: The Soapbox Derby's Wild Downhill Action in San Francisco

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'Roshambo' crosses the finish line after losing some pieces on the course during the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. Created by Rock Paper Scissors Collective.  (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The Soapbox Derby made its grand, colorful return to McLaren Park in San Francisco on Sunday with thrills, hills, and spills.

Thousands turned out to see 57 art cars, none of them equipped with engines or motors, hurl (and occasionally crawl) precariously downhill. The races took place on John F. Shelly Drive, an under-maintained asphalt obstacle of a street, complete with potholes, cracks, and—presenting a source of sometimes slapstick comedy for the crowd—a speed bump.

This was not your ordinary Indy 500-style race. Among the Soapbox Derby categories ranked by the judges: “Slowest,” “Best of the Worst” and “Most Graceful Wipeout.”

KGO news anchor Kumasi Aaron and KQED’s own Pendarvis Harshaw, host of Rightnowish, served as race announcers, giving color to every rattling mishap over the “cheese grater” portion of the track. Judges included musician La Doña; Dorcas Moulton, who created the famed “bread car” as part of the original Soapbox Derby; drag queen and educator Per Sia; and USC professor Amanda Pope.

KQED’s Beth LaBerge was there to capture the scene. See the Soapbox Derby’s colorful, creative cars, and the action that ensued, in her photos below.

Alex Morris and Noah Pilchen sit in a bathtub before racing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Whitney Shaw-Brandborg prepares to race in the pencil shaped car, created by her father Richard Shaw, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
‘The Wondering Eye’ crashes in a part of the course called the ‘Cheese Grater’ during the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Peter Taylor races behind ‘MUNI Tunes’ while crossing the finish line at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea, AKA La Dona, and drag queen and educator Per Sia judge contestants during the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The ‘Shrimp Car’ crosses the finish line during the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Joey Enos prepares to race his creation, the ‘Fine To Adequate Art Shipping Crate’, in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The ‘Crumple Car’ crosses the finish line during the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The ‘Hairy Eyeball’, created by John Casey, races during the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
‘Girls Garage’ leaves the startling line during the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Announcer Pendarvis Harshaw, host of KQED’s Rightnowish, speaks during the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
‘Flora 5000’, created by Macro Waves, races at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Cutouts of drag queens fill the window of Muni Tunes at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The ‘SCRAPmobile’ creative reuse center soapbox prepares to race during the SFMOMA Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
‘Flora 5000’, created by Macro Waves, races at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Soapbox Derby in McLaren Park, San Francisco on April 10, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

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