Northern Maine Soapbox Derby winners earn spots in international race in Ohio

3 weeks ago

HOULTON, Maine – The stock and super stock winners of the 27th running of the Northern Maine Soap Box Derby competition on Saturday earned a slot in the All-American International Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.’

In more than 30 double-elimination heats, 33 drivers of the gravity-powered cars vied for a win and a slot in the international competition. Nine-year-old stock driver Aiden Cyr of Houlton and 15-year-old super stock driver Addyson Lynds of Houlton took the top state prizes in Maine’s only surviving soap box race.  

“The kids were so excited it was a really special year this year,” said Karen Fitzpatrick, co-organizer of the Northern Maine Soap Box Derby. “It’s quite an experience to win.”

Fitzpatrick said they have been rebuilding since COVID-19. Last year there were 11 more racers with many first-time participants and organizers added three new cars for racers. 

And with this year’s derby, there were so many volunteers it just made everything much smoother and easier, she said. 

Participants in the 27th Northern Maine Soapbox Derby gather at Derby Hill in Houlton. Held on June 22, the event is Maine’s only soapbox race. (Courtesy of Andrew Mooers)

“Everything is really starting to come back from COVID-19 is what I really noticed this year,” Fitzpatrick said. “The community really stepped up and it was wonderful with all the donations and how we were able to do a lot.”

Soap box derby teaches these young drivers responsibility, independence and introduces them to new friends, she said. 

“The kids have to get in the cars and come down the hill by themselves. There is no adult,” she said. “I just think it’s a great thing for kids and they know they did it on their own.”

Fitzpatrick’s children, Seth in 1998 and Emily in 2004 when they were each 11, won at the state level and advanced to compete in Akron.

It was their experience in Akron that compels her to continue working with the derby each year. 

“When you go to Akron you meet kids from all over the world and it makes the world a lot smaller and it opens kids up to what they can do in the future,” she said. “ I just felt that my kids realized they can go anywhere because they have seen other kids do it.”

This year’s world championship race week kicks off on Sunday, July 14, and runs through Saturday, July 20. Throughout the week, participants at Akron’s Derby Downs will work on their race cars, practice with trial runs and compete in preliminary challenge races.

Fitzpatrick said derby organizers already know that for the 2025 Northern Maine Soap Box Derby they have three to four sets of twins ready to compete. 

“We will have to plan something special around that,” she said. 

This story was updated to correct Aiden Cyr’s hometown.