My Life at Speed – The Muscatine Iowa soap box derby – July 4th, 2016

After a 50 year hiatus, Muscatine, Iowa held an adult soapbox derby on the 4th of July down 3rd St. Thirty cars competed, one team coming all the way from Oklahoma to race against the locals!

Cars were built from anything from wheelbarrow pans and bicycle wheels to high tech aluminum frames to compete in two categories: speed class or an art class. Many engineers helped design cars from local business such as Monsanto and Musco Lighting. Both companies bring teams who usually build and race motorcycles or stock cars. Teams such as Weikert Brothers Racing & Bill Reimers racing.

There was a great response from the community and businesses to sponsor the race. Boonie’s on the Avenue owner Boonie Kleist held a car show at his restaurant and after the first chance for the town to see the cars for the first time, a large crowd grew to take photos and have autographs signed from the drivers & crew.  Local news media conducted interviews and also covered the event.

Muscatine native Weikert Brothers Racing patriarch, Jeff Weikert, built a car with his sons Jonathan & Jake.  Sponsor Scott Payne and friend Blair Humiston also joined in to help the team compete. Jeff previously competed in the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on a vintage Honda motorcycle to raise money for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s. Weikert was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009, and was the subject of a story on My Life at Speed by Robert Fraislie.

Jonathan and Scott Payne took turns driving the soapbox, winning each of 3 runs down the hill. Each car was timed for each run and winners were determined by the best 2 out of 3 runs. The top 4 cars were put in a run off for the championship. Unfortunately, due to some mechanical errors… a broken brake handle, bent wheel and a flat tire, the Weikert car finished 6th out of the 30 cars. Friend Bill Reimers did win the event, driving a car built by the Oklahoma Team SkunkWorks….actually competing against their other car IN THE FINAL and beating them!

The Muscatine event was such a success that the committee is considering adding a kids class to the derby next year. There are some things being changed, having a new event always brings challenges to overcome and improvements to be made, but the derby committee did a great job pulling off the unknown and expect even better success next year!