People powered

You’d better hold on to your hats because Sept. 9-11 won’t just see the return of Ciclovia and ManyFest to downtown Winnipeg, but also the First Annual aceartinc. Soap Box Derby Fundraiser.

Starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, one full block of Broadway, from Main Street to Fort Street, will transform into what could be the most culturally significant person-powered race this side of the Red River. At least ten contestant teams will line up side-by-side with their own handcrafted automobiles and try to steer their way toward glory on the downtown strip.

For those unaccustomed to the traditional form of soap box racing, the sport originated in the early 1900s when U.S. children were encouraged to build miniature racecars from scrap resources like old wooden crates and baby-buggy wheels. The cars lacked any working engines and so races most often took place atop long, steep hills — almost like a paved version of sled racing.

Obviously the prairies demand a different type of soap box racing, and so the aceartinc. event will be modifying the traditional derby, co-opting a rickshaw-type clause that will allow up to three team contestants to pull the racecar with one contestant sitting in as the driver.

Spectators should be on the lookout for some interesting soap box designs put together by an array of local talent. Aside from the aceart car, other team entries of note include City TV and Cake-ology. According to hannah_g, program coordinator at aceartinc., some of the design ideas suggested by participants may have even been a little too creative.

“We actually had one of the contestants ask if they could make a car that would be just under a city block in length so they would only have to pull it a few feet to the finish line. That’s a funny idea but, yeah, we can’t do that one.”
The idea behind the event was born in large part as a means to help support the aceartinc. gallery in the face of mounting relocation and programming costs.
“We’re fundraising in order to help with operating costs but also to help find a new space,” said hannah_g. “The outlook is not super hopeful in terms of staying at our current location but our plan is to find a space that works for us and will ensure long-term security.”

It is, one must admit, an exciting way to gather interest and help raise support.
Alongside the soap box derby, and along with all the other Ciclovia and ManyFest events, aceartinc. will also host fundraiser raffle with over $1,000 worth of prizes.
Any readers interested in building their own soap box cars in the interest of getting involved next year’s fundraiser should make sure to abide by the most important rule on derby day: always bring a helmet.