Quirky Cars: Nevada City Soapbox Derby

Lovingly built human-powered vehicles will phoosh through the small burg.

JUNE JAUNT: April may bring spring showers, and various flowers, and Tax Day, and lighter evenings, but it also brings inspiration, at least in terms of us deciding to start planning our summer season getaways. Those warm-weather getaways not only involve us traveling to the spot we want to see, but also traveling while we're there. Sometimes we plan a kayak trip, or some snowboarding, or we plot a cycling course through some picturesque countryside, but however we go, we are going, going, going.

AND WHILE OUR GETAWAYS... often involve some sort of movement once we reach our chosen destination, that movement typically doesn't involve a nailed-together car that looks like a large dog. We'll just go out on a limb with that one, assumption-wise, though if your weekend getaway plans typically involve human-powered vehicles that look like large dogs, well, due respect. That said, there are a couple of weekend getaway spots that are alllll about stupendous soapbox cars, and one of the biggest dates on the California calendar is just ahead. It's on Sunday, June 5, and...

PIONEER PARK IN NEVADA CITY... is the place, of course ("of course" because Nevada City fully embraces all things quirky). The 6th Annual Nevada City Adult Soapbox Derby will once again toodle down Nimrod Street "at speeds exceeding 40 mph," with loads of hay bales separating onlookers from the lovingly made, creatively designed vehicles. Some of the vehicles are built to go fast, and some are built to be fabulous, and both types play an important role at the yearly showdown. If you want to eye these moving artworks while they're not moving, the pit area is open to the public. As for the budget capper on these cars? Teams can spend $500 bucks, and no more, though the braking budget is separate (gravity and soapbox racing go hand-in-hand, so braking is given a lot of love, natch).

THE DAY IS A TRIBUTE... to old-school, hands-on construction, with a deep streak of whimsy through the middle, making it both about engineering and art. That whimsy, of course, is not only seen in the cars ready to race but in the town at large, which busily marks the merry day with other lively events. No need to stow your bike or boat, either, while you're there; there are places around Northern Gold Country to enjoy both. But if you're in the heart of Nevada City on the first Sunday in June, the moving vehicles are all about those quaint 'n quirky soapbox cars, be they speed machines or cars built to look like large dogs.

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