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First Hub City Soapbox Derby will bring thrills to Nanaimo hill

Event happening in Old City Quarter on Saturday, Aug. 20
Lynden Thomas will be one of the racers heading for the start line at the first Hub City Soapbox Derby this Saturday, Aug. 20. (Photo submitted)

Soapbox race cars are sure to reach high speeds on the hill in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter this coming weekend.

The first annual Hub City Soapbox Derby is happening Saturday, Aug. 20, on Fitzwilliam Street. The event, being organized by Alair Homes, VMAC and the Kristo Zorkin Group, is a fundraiser for the Nanaimo Child Development Centre.

“It was one of the events that got put to the wayside as a result of COVID,” said Lisa Henderson, regional community manager at Alair.

The derby includes a kids’ division for children 6-12, and a ‘big kids’ race for anyone else, including business entries.

Racers paid an entry fee that included a soapbox kit with wheels and brakes, and the cars have to meet certain weight restrictions.

“With everything else, you can kind of go whatever creative way you want to go,” Henderson said. “We’ve got kids that are creating soapboxes that look like their matchbox cars, we’ve got kids who are doing fishing-related ones, sports-related ones. There are some parameters, but the kids can get pretty creative.”

The soapbox cars will race down the hill two at a time, so racers will be out to beat the clock and their fellow competitors. Henderson said the course will be “absolutely” safe – racers will be wearing helmets, they will be required to test their brakes on a trial run, and first-aid personnel will be on hand. It’s also a simplified course for the kids.

“They just have to get straight down to the bottom and then turn onto Wesley Street, that’s where the course ends,” Henderson said. “But we might have some twists and turns for the big kids’ race.”

There will be trophies for the fastest racers, the most creative soapbox cars and the best-dressed pit crews. There will also be a barbecue and family activities.

“We are excited to host this event and support a local charity that is close to our hearts,” said Stu Hopewell, chief operating officer of Alair Homes, in a press release.

The event goes from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, visit

READ ALSO: Nanaimo engineering students come to grips with gravity at soapbox derby

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About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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