2022 is Dedicated to
Dennis Roth aka DLR
It is with a heavy heart that the Derby family says farewell to a beloved member. Dennis Roth has been a Portland Adult Soapbox Derby fixture since 2009, when he started as a course marshal. In 2011 he moved to the starting line and began officiating the race. This was a perfect fit considering his background as a swim coach. Dennis was an actual cowboy growing up on a reservation and participated in many rodeos as an established roper. This skill came in handy when herding racers at the starting line. Every racer for the past 10 years has rolled past Dennis on their way down the hill. Even during the pandemic year, the Derby went small with the Shoebox Derby, Dennis was there to launch cars down the track. He was a founding member of the PASD board of directors and did so much to keep this Portland tradition alive as a race organizer and Parks & Rec /Mt. Tabor liaison. His gruff exterior belied his huge heart and sweet demeanor. Quick to tell you exactly how he felt about a particular situation, he was also the first one there to lend a hand, or a weed eater, or whatever was needed. Dennis passed on July 12, 2021 and did not get to see the Derby, he so loved coming back online following shutdowns. He will be missed profoundly, and that is why the 2022 race is dedicated to DLR, Dennis Lee Roth (or Dear Lord Roth as he would say), and the Derby will carry his brand, DLR, on every piece of correspondence we send out, posters and t-shirts. You will notice all the Derby organizers also wearing straw hats, Dennis’ signature derby wardrobe. Dennis considered the Soapbox derby folks his second family, and we will miss his guidance and voice as we carry on. We just hope wherever he is now, he is still there yelling, “Racers, on your mark….”
How It All Got Started
Way back in the dark ages of 1994, Paul Zenk happened to find himself in the nose-bleeding altitude of Bernal Heights in the heart of the Mission District of San Francisco. The fog lifted, revealing a mass of strange creatures, some with dreaded hair, others bald as babies, some wearing post-industrial attire while others just roamed around in their mid-90’s punk shirts and ripped and stained pants. The females were sporting multi-colored hair and wearing anything from overalls to skimpy sundresses and combat boots. But that was not the shocking site. Out in the distance, the sound of rolling thunder filled the air. The road that wound its way around this urban volcano was beginning to shake. Loose gravel was vibrating under their feet. Then through the fog came wheeled demons. Men on monster machines completely powered only by gravity tore past the screaming hordes, some cars smashing into others. Throwing the daring riders into the blood-filled air and onto the merciless concrete. Another car lost control and sped into the spectators and off the cliff, while still, some made it to the bottom and into victory and legend.
The crowd was in a maelstrom, pouring beer over each other and raising their fist to the heavens.
Paul was hooked.
Two years later, in the City of Roses, He sat in the Horse Brass Pub with his partner in crime, Eric Foren, and revealed his amazing adventure in the Bay Area. A thought then came into his beer buzzed head. Why the F$#@!! do we not do that here? But where? Wait-they were sitting on their very own urban volcano called it Mt.Tabor!! This is where the fires from hell could be released onto the field of battle. So they plotted and schemed over the next year. They pulled in a small crew of riders, nothing near what was tearing down the hills of S.F., but a dedicated group that was ready to build, drink, and race.
And so it began. In the heat of the summer of 1997, six men climbed to the top of Mt Tabor, pulling their creations of death and destruction behind them. It was early in the day, yet the smell of beer and sweat already filled the air. They lined their impossible vehicles up and strapped on their glasses, helmets and the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby was born.
Mt. Tabor, and for that matter, Portland, Oregon, would never be the same.
Where Great Minds Build
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