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More to the Derby than a downhill race
For Sandra Smith, one of the organizers of the Third Annual Silverdale Soap Box Derby, the race tends to take a back seat. More important than the event itself is the driving force behind it teamwork.
Thats because for Smith, her team revolves around her granddaughter, 10-year-old Malia Barber.
Its a family affair, Smith said. Were grandparents of a racer. She and grandpa (Vince Smith) built the car together. They built a new one for this race. And weve traveled with her to rally races. Its something where weve been able to get closer to her.
The race, which starts at 9 a.m. Sunday on Ridgetop Boulevard between Myhre and Mickelberry roads, brings together 48 local racers whove spent time and energy building their derby racers which are propelled solely by gravity.
This years turnout is the largest the event has had in its short history, following its 30 racers in its 2003 debut and 37 in 2004.
We have a wonderful turnout, Smith said. We had to cut if off at 48. And were going to double elimination. That gives everyone a better chance. If you have one bad run, it gives you a chance to catch up.
The Derby kicks off Friday with its annual banquet, followed by car inspections on Saturday. Following the inspections, the cars are locked up until Sunday morning.
The Soap Box Derby has run nationally since 1934. Each August, the World Championships take place at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio. The Derbys goals are to teach youngsters some of the basic skills of workmanship, the spirit of competition and the perseverance to continue a project once it has begun.
They have to use power tools like sanders, Smith said. Its a learning experience and a bonding experience.
The Silverdale race is a local qualifying race, meaning the winner goes on to compete in Akron. The Silverdale Rotary helps to offset some of the costs, but hopefuls should expect some out-of-pocket expenses.
Once stricken with derby fever, Smith said its tough to shake, citing Rotary president Bill Wrights family, whose daughter Jocelyn is now in her third year racing.
Now theyve got the bug, Smith said. Thats what happens; it gets in your blood.
Smith said theres simply not enough community events that can pull kids and families together like the Derby.
Its whats going to keep families together, she said. You have to find events to bring families together. Weve got five generations watching these races. Our community just needs to support activities like this and encourage them. The kids are doing something physical. Theyre not just sitting in front of the (television).