On a Roll: Nevada City Adult Soapbox Derby

Fleet, not-too-big vehicles head for the (down) hills.

Outside Inn

JUST A FACT: There are true 'n real can't-dispute-'em facts in this ol' world, like trees can be tall, the ocean can be deep, and if a grown-up strolls by a soapbox racer parked on the side of the street, the lookie-loo will long to get inside and see how the darn thing rolls. But then a lot of inventive grown-ups get to discover that delightful mystery in Nevada City each summer. The Gold Country burg, known for its Mardi Gras gathering and Halloween-fall-color ways, also has a hankering for one of the old-fashioned pleasures of summer, the soapbox derby. But in Nevada City, the racing is for the adults, come June. Crowds turn out to celebrate the dreamers who've put quite a bit of time, love, head-scratching, re-fixing, some painting, and lots of can-do into their lil' cars all in the name of the Nevada City Adult Soapbox Derby. This year's date is Saturday, June 13, and the scene of the gravity-take-the-wheel race? Nimrod Street.

HILLS RULE: As you can guess by its gold-related, Old West, Sierra-foothilly location, Nevada City is rather blessed in the incline/decline department, and Nimrod Street is just the spot to make the soapboxers go, go, go. Speeds can zoom past 40 mph -- wheee, indeed -- and onlookers cheers the creative cars on. And we do mean creative: The derby participants don't just set off to win on the speed front, but maybe the art front, instead. Speed and Art in fact make up the two categories. Hundreds of straw bales separate the racers from the onlookers, and the whole shebang is centered around Pioneer Park, where there's also a "pit area" where the public is welcome. "Further up the hill, food and beverage vendors, live music, and free swimming for the kids" lend the hometown-y high jinks more of a summer's-on-the-way whimsy. And even though you'll be cheering on the soapboxes as they speed on by, make time to see the creations when they're at a standstill, too. The hours upon hours of work deserve a little peering-up-close love.

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