‘It’s cheap, fast fun’: Montague Soapbox Race attracts 35 racers

  • Adult category winner Jim Roberge of Greenfield in the red cart in a close heat down First Street in Turners Falls on Sunday as part of the Montague Soapbox Race. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Adult category winner Jim Roberge of Greenfield in the red cart in a close heat down First Street in Turners Falls on Sunday as part of the Montague Soapbox Race. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Two competitors in the Montague Soapbox Race round the curve on First Street in Turners Falls on Sunday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Soapbox racing returned to Montague on Sunday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Soapbox racing returned to Montague on Sunday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Some carts needed a little help reaching the finish line although this one, crafted to look like a submarine, scored high for style points in Sunday’s Montague Soapbox Race. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • A racer speeds down the First Street hill in Turners Falls on Sunday as part of the Montague Soapbox Race. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls Fire Capt. Luke Hartnett drives Engine 1 in the Montague Soapbox Race on Sunday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2021 5:26:06 PM

MONTAGUE — Carts made from wood, cardboard, bicycle parts, upcycled shopping carts and more took to the First Street hill on Sunday for a second straight weekend of soapbox racing in Franklin County.

According to Race Director Mik Muller, 35 carts participated, a number that more than doubled Greenfield’s turnout at last weekend’s soapbox race. Racers from small children to firefighters and Army veterans filled out the three divisions.

“At first, I was scared, and then I realized, ‘Oh wait, this is fun,’ and I sent it,” said Myra “MJ” Glabach, a seventh-grader at Great Falls Middle School and first-time soapbox racer.

Another first-time driver, Turners Falls High School junior David Stowe, shared this enthusiasm minutes before his first race.

“It’s something new,” he said. “I like trying new things. Hopefully, it’ll be a good time.”

For some, the thrill of soapbox racing not only survives the test of time, but cross-country travel. Ben Terwilliger, who has spent 27 years moving from state to state while serving in the U.S. Army, participated in Montague’s competition with his 12-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, after racing in Texas and Connecticut.

“It’s cheap, fast fun,” Terwilliger said. “These things feel much faster than they are.”

Terwilliger emphasized the cart-building process as being particularly fun. Indeed, builders got creative in assembling their carts, which took the shape of firetrucks, submarines, ships and more.

While many carts were built with minimal personnel, others were constructed as a team effort. Stowe’s “Thunder 1” cart was constructed with help from the rest of his MakerLab class at Turners Falls High School.

“The entire class really helped put it together,” MakerLab teacher Brian Lamore said. “As far as the school goes, this is one of — if not the — best projects we’ve ever worked on.”

“It’s a fun project,” agreed MakerLab student Corin Wisnewski, a primary designer and engineer of “Thunder 1.” “It’s great for school. ... I learned a lot doing this.”

For some, the investment in cart-building runs even deeper. MJ Glabach’s cart, painted a signature purple and white, was decorated to raise awareness of chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis, or CRMO, a rare bone disease that she was diagnosed with at 10 years old.

“It’s hard to explain because there’s not a lot of research on it,” she said. “That’s why I’m trying to raise awareness.”

Greenfield’s Jim Roberge, the winner of last weekend’s Greenfield Soapbox Race in the adult category, took home the gold for a second weekend. Muller said full results of the races will be posted soon at montaguesoapboxraces.com. What he could say immediately, however, was that the return of soapbox racing to Montague, after an eight-year hiatus, was a positive one.

“I think today’s a total success,” Muller said.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or
jmendoza@recorder.com.




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