New Mexico middle schooler starts soapbox race in his town

New Mexico News

It’s an American tradition that’s been around for 85 years: the soapbox derby. One New Mexico middle schooler wanted to start a race in his town, so he did.

One by one, four teams of elementary and middle school students from Cottonwood Valley Charter School in Socorro raced homemade soapboxes down New Mexico Tech’s back 9. 

“I’m kind of feeling good about the fastest,” said Isaiah Ocampo. 

The kids designed and built the cars with the help of New Mexico tech engineering students. 

“We have really thin wood and that we used for the sides, and we have linkage steering which means both wheels move at the same time,” said Robinson Ford. 

The cars were judged on speed, distance and how well they could maneuver through cones down the hill. 

The first annual soap box derby race was 12-year-old Robinson Ford’s idea. 

“I like driving things and I can’t drive things yet, ya know I’m not old enough,” Ford said.

So, he found a car he could drive. 

“I’d seen videos like this on YouTube and I thought this is cool,” Ford said. 

After getting his school and New Mexico Tech on board, he was able to persuade local businesses to donate $2,500 to make the cars and the race happen.

“It’s scary and it’s bumpy, it’s really fun and rewarding at the end,” Ford said. 

After all he put in, Ford says his first time behind the wheel, “It was more than I hoped for to be honest,” Ford said.  

The hammerhead shark car won for speed and distance, and the liger head car won the agility category. 

The boy behind this first annual New Mexico Tech Soapbox Derby Race won best design for his Viking ship.

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