On Saturday, June 3, the Nazareth Adult Soapbox Racing Association brought “racing back to Nazareth” after an 11-year hiatus during a day-long event along W. Prospect Street, which was blocked off for the race.
The NASBRA derby was originally founded by Matt Rinker and ran successfully from 2008 through 2012. However, the event became too large to run safely given the small volunteer crew, which is why the derby had not been held in 11 years.
This year, two of the preexisting crew members worked hard to bring back the race for a family fun-filled community event that also raised funds for The Lehigh Conference of Churches with the help of the numerous event sponsors such as The Lehigh Conference of Churches, Martin Guitar, Area 1320, SERVPRO, Lehigh Valley Phantoms, MS Techz, Mehlbaum Sound, RMG Insurance, DeSales University, Ultimate Auto Detailing & Window Tint, Wolf Insurance, Cortnee’s Cars, Ressler’s Market, Pocono Raceway, and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors.
To pass inspection on the day of the race, drivers had to adhere to some strict regulations. For example, all participants had to be 18 or over, helmets were mandatory, only the driver was allowed in the car during the race, cars had to be powered by the strength of their push start and the gravity of the hill only, so they could not have stored power or external energy sources, car maximum dimensions were 6 feet wide by 12 feet long, no head-first style cars, rollerblade, skateboard, and luge wheels were prohibited, four wheels had to be touching the ground at all times with no retractable wheels allowed, cars were required to have two wheels in the front and two wheels in the back, and cars could not have any “James Bond stuff” like smoke screens, spikes, oil slicks, or explosives.
Participants began arriving around 7 a.m. to set up and from 8 to 9 a.m. racers checked in and had their cars inspected. Practice runs went from 9 to 11 a.m., and the double elimination races started promptly at noon while announcers Keith Remaly and Jane Babian advised spectators to stay out of the street during each heat.
Car fan favorites for being most creative included Shawn Shupe’s shopping cart dubbed “Grocery Grabber,” JR Williams’ coffin “Eternal Rest,” Chris Hill’s Strows Plumbing bathtub “No Rough Too Tough,” and Buck Vanhorn’s carrot “The Carrot Express.” Crowd favorite was Meghan Uliana’s “#38 Farm Team” as Remaly and Babian announced that Uliana was the only female driver of the derby, which received excited roars from spectators showing their support.
During the first bracket Shupe’s “Grocery Grabber” won against Steven Noversel’s white NB2 Motorsports and Vigilance Hose “NB2-S” and Rick Noversel’s white NB2 Motorsports “NB2-R.” Randy Ressler’s third generation Ressler’s Racing “#12” won against Cole Heitzman’s “Blue Bed” and JR Williams’ “Eternal Rest.” Due to a no-show, Louis Stubits’ black “Mechanical Mayhem” also won. Rob Leiser’s red STP #2 “The Andretti Car” won against AJ Ressler’s white “Ressler’s Racing” and Mason Rinker’s yellow 30s roadster “The Rink.” Hill’s “No Rough Too Tough” won due to a no-show, and Uliana’s “#38 Farm Team” won against Vanhorn’s “The Carrot Express.” KC Creyer’s blue bomber “Quarry Slugs” won against Brandon Ahart’s wooden “Dude Where’s My Soapbox?” Dave Austin’s green #5 “Austin Special” won against Neil Romanishan’s black snowmobile “The Dream Team,” and due to a no-show, Dan Geiger’s Mario cart “Knuckleheads” won, with Geiger even dressed as Mario.
Races continued as fans and their tail-wagging pooches cheered on throughout the day while jamming to 80s classics and munching on hot dogs and Girl Scout cookies.
During the final bracket, Austin’s green #5 “Austin Special” went head-to-head with Leiser’s red STP #2 “The Andretti Car” and AJ Ressler’s white “Ressler’s Racing.” Austin won by a mere foot with Leiser coming in second place and Ressler coming in third.
During Austin’s winning speech, he thanked Leiser who actually built the “Austin Special,” and Leiser was a great sport, posing for pictures with Austin and the “Austin Special.”
Founder Matt Rinker and announcers Remaly and Babian thanked spectators for coming out and proudly shared that NASBRA will be back next year for everyone to look forward to.
Interested racers should start thinking of their plans for the 2024 race, which will surely be even more creative than this year, given that the derby is back to stay. Check out the Nazareth Adult Soapbox Racing Association’s Facebook page for more information about the derby and stay tuned for next year’s derby.