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2008 Red Bull Soapbox Race, San Francisco

By Gretchen Robinettereviews
Nov 3, 2008 - 10:34 PM

Around 2 p.m., an hour after the races began, the announcer called out the estimated total of 60,000 present at Dolores Park in San Francisco for the Red Bull Soap Box Race on Oct. 18. As the blinding sunlight beat down in epic proportions, all that could be seen along the park's perimeter was a sea of heads crammed between endless Red Bull promo and merch booths. Everyone expected to be amped for the races, being a free event sponsored by Red Bull, but they still asked $2 a can! They did offer the new Red Bull Soda, which tasted a bit too much like Diet Pepsi.

It was hard to be on an energy drink sugar rush, not be able to see anything but more heads and Police cars, and stay mashed against the racetrack guard line for the three hours of races. The crowd was later estimated at 70,000, and it seemed that most all of them were willing to stick out the long waits in between each individual rush that passed 19th Street on Dolores Street to the bottom of the park.

Each contestant was judged on not only the creativity of their vehicle, their climatic launch down the race path, but also a short skit performance. Groups went down in everything from a pirate ship, a pig body, a human-sized hampster wheel, and my favorite, the pig that chased the giant pink donut.

It was hard to see anything, with the contestants racing down at an estimated 30mph, followed by a hoard of digital cameras, iPhones, and camcorders raised above everyone's head but, luckily, giant screens providing live views and instant replays of the races were conveniently placed at each end of the park. So if you got claustrophobic on the race sidelines, you could celebrate the warm sunshine on a bit of the park grass watching the screen and amazing panoramic city view that we all love our city for.


Gretchen Robinette is a freelance photographer who shoots 300-500 photos a day. Double espressos and Red Bull are her fuel. Photography is her life until the day she dies, and in her grave will be her body and her Canon.

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