Tech team member Ron Manz gives the thumbs up as driver Tabby Holms hits the desired weight of 240 pounds in her soap box derby car during weighing at the barn June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Tech team member Ron Manz gives the thumbs up as driver Tabby Holms hits the desired weight of 240 pounds in her soap box derby car during weighing at the barn June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Brand-new track, permanent Camano home for Soap Box Derby

Races involving 73 cars are on Saturday at a converted ranch where striped pavement belongs to kids.

CAMANO ISLAND — The cars sat in rows inside a big red barn, recently renovated.

It was quiet at the ranch-turned-racetrack last week.

It won’t be on derby day.

The cars were built by drivers ages 7 to 17, supervised by parents, grandparents, friends and volunteers. They’ll be raced in the 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby on Saturday. Two winners from the day-long event head to Akron, Ohio, for a national competition in July.

The Stanwood-Camano race has drawn hundreds of spectators in past years.

This year, instead of speeding down the slope of a closed city street in Stanwood, the racers will hurtle down a freshly paved track on an idyllic Camano Island property. A double yellow line splits the new black pavement into two lanes from the top of the hill to the end of the track, beyond which lies a green field and a ridge of trees.

Amelia Allen (left) looks down at the track as she races another driver in unweighted practice soap box derby cars June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Amelia Allen (left) looks down at the track as she races another driver in unweighted practice soap box derby cars June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Randy and Marla Heagle, who own the local Windermere Real Estate offices and started the event a decade ago, always had a vision to build a permanent home for the Soap Box Derby. They wanted someplace that wouldn’t inconvenience neighbors and traffic with a road closure, and where drivers could practice more often. They also see opportunities for more events, including regional rally races and team building activities for adults.

The couple bought the 20-acre property at 615 Arrowhead Road two years ago and began fixing it up. The Arrowhead Ranch was in rough shape, Randy Heagle said. They hauled four bins of garbage out from the barn, which has been transformed into derby headquarters.

Last week, workers were finishing putting in guardrail along the track.

Parents and kids prep soap box derby cars outside the barn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Parents and kids prep soap box derby cars outside the barn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“I just want to build a place that helps give kids memories, and when they look back at being a kid on Camano Island, this is one of those hero moments,” Marla Heagle said.

They started the derby because they wanted an event that brought together kids, businesses and the community. Ten years from now, Randy Heagle pictures derby cars on display in nearly every local business so when people arrive in Stanwood, they know it’s a derby town.

There are 73 cars for this year’s race, up from 24 the first year. Businesses sponsor many of the cars so that children can participate regardless of family income. Some private donors also have offered to cover the entry fee for children who otherwise couldn’t afford it, Randy Heagle said. Attending as a spectator is free.

There aren’t many Soap Box Derby races in the Pacific Northwest that can qualify a racer for the championship in Akron. This is the only one in or near Snohomish County. One local driver has placed sixth nationally and hauled home a large, shiny trophy.

As her grandfather, Rich McCalib, wipes down the car, Alexie Crabtree removes a decal from her soap box car. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

As her grandfather, Rich McCalib, wipes down the car, Alexie Crabtree removes a decal from her soap box car. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“The kids can practice a lot more now,” Randy Heagle said. “Our goal is hopefully in the next five years we get an Akron champion.”

They’ve spent about $125,000 on building the track and derby headquarters, the Heagles said. A little more than $30,000 has been donated, and they’ve received contributions such as free use of heavy equipment. They are accepting donations at gofundme.com/buildatrack.

They’ve been working with the nonprofit Stanwood Camano Community Resource Center and dozens of volunteers. Windermere employees volunteer with the derby as their annual service project, and former drivers have offered to come back and help, too. One wants to do an Eagle Scout project at the new track.

Micah Knowles, 10, gets ready for his first test ride in a practice soap box derby car on the track. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Micah Knowles, 10, gets ready for his first test ride in a practice soap box derby car on the track. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“I think of all the people who have given time, effort, encouragement,” Randy Heagle said. “We truly couldn’t do it without them.”

On Saturday, people can bring camp chairs, pop-up tents and blankets, Marla Heagle said, and the easiest parking is at nearby Utsalady Elementary School.

The derby starts at 9 a.m. and is expected to continue all day.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

First year driver Charlotte McNeely, 13, and her mother, Stephanie, work their Super Stock soap box derby car brakes at the barn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

First year driver Charlotte McNeely, 13, and her mother, Stephanie, work their Super Stock soap box derby car brakes at the barn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Peyton Calkins listens as adults talk about the bend in a rod that keeps the wheels straight under pressure from the driver’s weight in a soap box derby car. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Peyton Calkins listens as adults talk about the bend in a rod that keeps the wheels straight under pressure from the driver’s weight in a soap box derby car. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Parents and kids prep soap box derby cars outside the barn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Parents and kids prep soap box derby cars outside the barn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

[flipp]

More in Northwest

A proposal to make King County Metro fares free for low-income households could be approved in the coming months. File photo
King County considers free transit for low-income residents

The program would target those at or below 80 percent of the federal poverty level.

Federal Way resident Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, 17, died Jan. 27, 2017. Courtesy photo
Law enforcement challenges report on sting operation that killed Federal Way teen

King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight’s findings rattle Sheriff’s Office, police union.

Unstable housing? Apply for Section 8

Applications open in February for housing vouchers

In 2018, the city of Seattle approved and then repealed a head tax within a month. It would have levied a $275 per employee tax on businesses grossing more than $20 million annually. Sound Publishing file photo
County head tax bill passes committee

Bill would let King County levy a tax on businesses to fund housing and address homelessness.

Gov. Jay Inslee signs the first bill of the 2020 legislative session into law. On the right stands the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who is wearing a red tie. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gov. Inslee signs tax bill to help fund higher education

Law shifts a portion of the tax burden to large tech companies.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Metro bus fleet will be electrified by 2035

Future base in South King County would house hundreds of the zero-emission vehicles.

Three-quarters of the suicide deaths among children ages 10 to 14 are caused by firearms, according to a new report from the Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at the University of Washington. File photo
King County studies youth gun violence amid rising suicides

It’s unclear what’s driving the trend.

A King County work crew clears a road near Preston on Feb. 7, 2020. Heavy rains appear to have caused multiple landslides along the road. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
The future could look a lot like this year’s flood season

Climate change is expected to lead to more winter flooding in King County.

State Capitol Building, Olympia, Washington. File photo
Mental illness: Lawmakers propose plan to treat without consent

Concerns raised on the guardianship and loss of rights for incapacitated persons.

High tides, as seen in this file photo of Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Pacific County, could become the norm in the future due to sea level rise. Sound Publishing file photo
UW summarizes Washington climate impact on water

The report localizes information from the United Nations.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.