‘Harry Eyeball’ and fellow racers bring the long-awaited soapbox derby back to bay

As the first contestant in SFMOMA’s Soapbox derby on Sunday, Justin Marshall signed a launch form at the opening gate, followed by John F. of McLaren Park lined up with thousands of spectators. Shelley looked down at the drive. He took a training run a few days ago and was afraid of what was coming.

“I went faster than I could handle,” said the 35-year-old Marshall, who noted that he hit 35 mph in the middle of the class, “the curriculum is steep and flat, and everyone’s in the ‘Cheese Greater’ below.”

Then, on a chassis of skateboard wheels, he landed on the wheel of a wooden box built to look like a panel, graffiti-beaten delivery truck. It is the first of 57 wonderfully designed and brightly decorated non-motorized vehicles to recall an event that last took place in the course in 1978. That’s when the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art stopped it after two stages without serious injuries.

The happy crowd has missed so many years, the comfortable, home-made carts, their monikers match their body language – “Puff the Pastry Dragon,” “Carrot Car” and many more – Modified the force of gravity on the path that has not been set since the 70s. It came with dvots and bits and a half speed limit of 10% quality.

Despite the focus on speed, this is not a face-to-face race or even a time test. Judgments were rendered in several categories, including “slow,” “low intensity,” “best is bad” and “car that looks bad after an accident halfway through the road”. Kumasi Aaron, the morning presenter at KGO News, and Pendarvis Harshaw, the “Rightnowish” presenter at KQED-FM, overtook an announcer’s position and the contestants went down to seven heats.

“Here comes ‘Harry Eyeball’,” Harsha announced as the second contestant flew down with wide eyes. “It’s rolling. It’s not slow.

Next came the “carrot car”. “Smooth-moving vegetable, baby,” he said.

An art car called the “Harry Eyeball”, created by John Casey, exits the starting lineup during SFMOMA’s soapbox derby at McLaren Park in San Francisco.

Photos by Jana Assenbrennerova / Featured in The Chronicle

“We love SFMOMA. We love art cars. We love McLaren Park, which’s why we’re here,” said Hillary Clark, who carries a blanket from Berkeley with her husband Eric Johnson and their two daughters, Miriam, 6, and Beatrice, 9. Came to set up two tier chairs.

Another reason they were there was that Stella Lochmann, SFMOMA public relations manager, saw the video of the last Soapbox race in the museum archive. That discovery was in 2009. It took a long time to create the creative need.

An open call for submissions was issued in January. Art students and art groups were invited. Forty-six people were awarded $ 1,000 in scholarships, including a group of 13-year-old boys who called themselves robot wolves. They initially thought to design their entry like a bottle, and then switched to a line before settling on a pastry called “Puff the Pastry Dragon”.

“I had several hours of papier-mch in my front yard. Lots and lots of repetition, ”Ellery Clem said.

“We built for someone our size; We found that we were too young to drive it, ”said Josie Andre.

Along the way, Alina Martinez, with the creative mind behind “Olmec”, was built like the god of Yucatan, wearing the captain’s hat found on Giants Giveaway on Saturday. “We were working until 3pm last night and we got drunk and left,” he said. “Everything has to work,” Chief Engineer Kyle Moreno said incredulously. “We have a helmet.”

To make sure everything went smoothly, Sherry Sternberg, executive producer of the Hartley Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival, was summoned to oversee the event.

Bradley Godsman rests in his Sobax Derby after riding a mountain in McLaren Park, San Francisco.  SFMOMA brought back Derby for the first time since 1978.

Bradley Godsman rests in his Sobax Derby after riding a mountain in McLaren Park, San Francisco. SFMOMA brought back Derby for the first time since 1978.

Special for Jana Assenbrennerova / The Chronicle

“I like to think this is a regular thing,” he said. “This park is unused.”

Not on this day. Food trucks were set up along with music at the Shelley Drive, the Derby Hot Match and the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. This free social event follows the Art Talk at the Museum on Friday night, which is the main annual fundraiser expected to net $ 2 million. Sunday’s event was set up to thank SFMOMA’s supporters. North Face helped to underline.

“The amazing creativity of so many local artists and such a great participation in this wonderful social event,” said SFMOMA Board Chairman Bob Fisher, who, along with other audience members, hugged his grandson on his shoulders for a better view. “This is the happiest day in San Francisco.”

Leave a Comment