Team SweetWater, a squad from the SweetWater Brewing Co. in south Buckhead, won Saturday’s Red Bull Soapbox Derby race in Midtown.
More than 49,500 fans lined 10th Street at Piedmont Park to watch 36 teams compete in the adults-only event.
After watching the Red Bull Air Force team sky dive in to kick-start the race, the crowd cheered on a penguin, a fishbowl, a food truck and even a pair of high-heel pumps as they screeched down 10th Street in hopes of winning the title of Red Bull Soapbox champion. In the end though, there could only be one winner, and SweetWater’s flying fish, with its retractable fins and wheelie popping ability, won the title of soapbox champion.
“It was a total team effort,” said SweetWater’s team leader, Brian O’Connell. “It’s a challenge to figure out how you can work within the limits and still do something that gets the crowd excited. It was a narrow margin, we just inched it out. It was fun to bring it home to Atlanta.”
The teams were judged on three criteria: speed, creativity and showmanship. Obviously, speed speaks for itself! The flying fish flew down the course without any problems on the jumps. To gain more showmanship points, the team wore outrageous fish costumes, acted out a great skit and got the crowd’s attention with its one-of-a-kind craft.
Race viewers got involved this year and were able to name their fan favorite. The People’s Choice Award went to the Atlanta Rollergirls Racing Devils. The girls, with their wild costumes, hilarious skit and imaginative craft, skated their way into the hearts of thousands of fans, who were able to text their votes during the race.
Two teams with Buckhead residents - Beer Connoisseur magazine and The Prezidents of the United States - also competed in the race. Beer Connoissuer, the defending champion, placed third, and the Prezidents finished 32nd.
The Atlanta event was the 12th U.S. Red Bull Soapbox Race to ever take place, with the first stateside race held in St. Louis in 2006. The global event dates back to 2000, when it first took place in Belgium, and has since visited nearly 30 countries. Other stateside pit stops planned for 2012 include Red Bull Soapbox Race Texas, which is set to take place in Dallas Sept. 15.