UPDATED — Peninsula men run strong but don't place in Seattle soapbox race today

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — The North Olympic Peninsula’s entry to Seattle Red Bull Soapbox Race made a strong showing Sunday but failed to place in the contest.

Justin Tognoni, driver of the Next Door Gastropub’s “Dukes of Hazzard” inspired “Crazy Daisy” entry, saidhe thought that the team was in the top seven but not among the winners.

The final results from the competition were not immediately available.

“We probably caught a foot and a half of air on that first jump,” Tognoni said.

Crazy Daisy’s design and theme was based on the car from television’s “Dukes of Hazzard,” the General Lee.

39 soapbox cars

The entry, which included Tognoni dressed as the character Daisy Duke, was one of 39 soapbox cars in the Seattle race, held at the intersection of Yesler Way and Second Avenue.

The Crazy Daisy team incudes Tognoni, Nick Thomas, Ben Slota, Jason Thompson and car owner/engineer Jacob Oppelt.

It took Tognoni and Thomas three months to put together the 8-foot-long, 172-pound soapbox car from pieces of old go-karts, lawn mowers, particle board and scrap metal.

It used wheelbarrow tires and was clocked at 30 mph going down the Cherry Street hill in Port Angeles.


PORT ANGELES — Some good ol' boys from the North Olympic Peninsula are hoping their tribute to one of America's cultural touchstones will earn them international acclaim.

“Who doesn't love 'The Dukes [of Hazzard]'?” asked Justin Tognoni, co-owner of Next Door Gastropub in Port Angeles, referring to the television show that aired on CBS from Jan. 26, 1979, to Feb. 8, 1985.

With Tognoni showing off his legs as an ersatz Daisy Duke in her trademark short-shorts and a soapbox car dressed up like the famed General Lee, Next Door has sponsored a “Dukes of Hazzard”-inspired team that will compete as one of 39 selected from more than 600 entrants from around the world to race in the Red Bull Soapbox Race in downtown Seattle today.

“We decided to jump in and do something to bring a little attention to the community,” Tognoni said.

“'Cause I'm sure this is what the Peninsula wants to be known for,” team member Nick Thomas said.

Race in Seattle

The Seattle race, free and open to the public, begins at the intersection of Yesler Way and Second Avenue.

Attendees can check out cars in the pit starting at 11 a.m. Racing starts at 1 p.m.

“Making their way, the only way they know how,” the Crazy Daisy team of Tognoni, Thomas, Ben Slota, Jason Thompson and car owner/engineer Jacob Oppelt hope to return from this race with glory and riches like, as balladeer Waylon Jennings, who wrote the “Dukes of Hazard” theme song, might put it, “true modern-day Robin Hoods.”

Teams are judged on speed, creativity and presentation, with each squad staging a skit that prompts the need for a quick soap box getaway.

Crazy Daisy's getaway plot came together as a last-ditch, last-minute effort.

Sasquatch turned down

The squad originally designed a Sasquatch-inspired car but heard nothing back about that entry.

Tognoni then contacted the race's coordinator

“She got back to me, and she said they had too many Sasquatch and Seahawks entries,” Tognoni said.

“But then she said, 'I'll give you one more night to come up with something.'”

“So we sat down and drank a 12-pack, came up with this — and it's all history,” Thomas said.

Casting the Daisy role came shortly after that.

“I put his wife's shirt and shorts on, and we just bombed,” Tognoni said.

“Those are not my wife's shorts,” Thomas adamantly pointed out.

Over the ensuing three months, they put together the 8-foot-long, 172-pound soapbox car from pieces of old go-karts, lawn mowers, particle board and “any other scrap metal we could pull off a pile,” Thomas said.

“It was three months of weekends and whenever the wife would allow,” Thomas said.

The tires are “borrowed” from a wheelbarrow and performed well in test runs, the crew said.

“They got it up to about 30 miles an hour down the Cherry Street hill,” Thomas said.

They clocked that speed by running the “General” down the steep Cherry Street hill with Slota following in his car, watching the speedometer.

Red Bull has hosted 40 soapbox races around the world, and the events, according to the company, have drawn as many as 120,000 spectators.

Some 40,000 people attended the last Seattle Red Bull Soapbox Race in 2007.

For more on the race, visit http://soapbox.redbull.com.


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 24. 2014 6:26PM
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