Macon's fourth annual soapbox derby success


Hundreds of Maconites attended Second Sunday Brunch, which was moved to the first Sunday due to Easter, in Washington Park on Sunday, April 1. After a concert by Jubee and the Morning After the crowd turned their attention to the fourth annual Magnolia Street Soapbox Derby.
A record number of 23 teams participated in the race. Some of the teams included Middle Georgia Derby Demons, a local roller derby team; Team Georgia Kayak; Mercer Law; and American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a team comprised of Mercer engineering majors.
Before the practice round at 3:00 p.m., Street Percussion Entertainment marched and danced down Magnolia Street, which was lined with hay bales marking the race lane.
Around 60 volunteers helped make the derby possible, and a local Boy Scout troop set up all the hay bales.
Some of the derby cars featured an ambulance with fully functioning lights and sirens, a car with trailing parachutes, a radioactive banana and a Winnebago. Team Wiggle’s Winnebago won best in show, along with a cash prize of $100 and a $100 gift certificate.
First place was awarded to Team Bearfoot, who earned a time of 11.0 seconds. Georgia Kayak came in second with a time of 11.20 seconds, and barely beat Ace Bloodhound Home Inspection who came in third with 11.22 seconds.
AG Graffix’s derby car was pink, and took about one week to build. The team put in around 55 to 60 hours of building, said team member Al Gray. AG Graffix did “a lot of metal work, a lot of sheet metal work. … We got a wooden floor, we got wheelchair wheels, custom paint. … Small stereo system put in by Mobile Audio Video Solutions. Pretty much it,” said Gray.
The Middle Georgia Derby Demons built their car out of an old wine rack and steel beams, said driver Esther Lee-Altman. The roller derby team spent around 20 to 30 hours total building the roller-skate-themed car. Lee-Altman said, “I’m really proud of these girls because we all were able to pull together and get it built, get it tested, get it decorated.”
The Derby Demons started about one year ago, and the soapbox derby was a great way for them to get noticed and attract sponsors, fans, and recruits. “It shows that we’re obviously a bunch of kick-ass girls who can build stuff like this, and also on the rink we can skate,” said Lee-Altman.
The Derby Demons skate at Bibb Skate Arena, and they always welcome new skaters.
Mercer students Rob Machen, Joshua Abarra and Adam Blair submitted a Mercer-themed derby car as part of their senior design project for engineering. The team designed and built the car over a period of about two months.
“We actually stress tested metals, we did some practice runs, did computer modeling, lots of stuff,” Machen said. The students wrote over 100 pages of reports for the project, which will be looked over and graded by several professors. Machen added, “We have to have drawings, design works, proof of concept, test runs, things like that.”
The students were given a budget to work with, but the American Society of Mechanical Engineers also helped with the budget. Their car clocked in at 11.60 seconds, and while they did not win, Machen, Abarra and Blair all enjoyed the experience.