Soap box derby racers, start your ‘engines’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 7, 2000

Features Editor

May 6, 2000 10 PM

Troy prides itself in being an innovative community and the city just put another feather in its leadership cap.

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The Troy Derby Association has announced that the city of Troy will host the state’s only preliminary All American Soapbox Derby race in June. The winners from the two divisions, super stock and stock, will qualify to race in the All American Soapbox Derby finals in Akron, Ohio in July.

The idea for the soapbox derby originated with Nancy Brooks, director of the Troy Derby Association. Brooks became interested in racing while involved with the Cub Scout program. The natural progression from Pinewood Derby racing seemed to be soapbox car racing.

Brooks began to surf the Internet to find out how Troy could get involved. What she learned was that there was no qualifying soapbox derby race in Alabama. She filed an application with the All American Soapbox Derby headquarters in Akron and, now, Troy is a host city.

The Troy Derby Association made a decision to enter two of the three divisions and already the local race is shaping up to be a great event.

The super stock division is full with the Social Cafe and Lounge, Troy Bank and Trust, the Troy Exchange Club, Roger Dragsten, Battery Specialist, WTBF, Sanders Lead Company and Dr. Darrell Potter as sponsors for the eight cars that are allowed in each division.

However, there are still five open slots for the stock division.

"We are looking for sponsors for these five slots," Brooks said. "The cars are made of fiberglass and come in kits that have to be assembled. It usually takes about a week to get a car in once it is ordered. The cost of each car kit is between $450 and $500 but the cars can be raced for five years, so that comes to $100 or less a year. We are hoping both of our races will have the eight entries, which is the limit set by the All American Soapbox Derby."

Brooks said the cars will be driven by boys and girls between the ages of nine and 16.

The drivers are being chosen in different ways. Roger Dragsten is racing two cars

which will be driven by his children Andrew and Ellen. Some of the sponsoring businesses are holding drawings to decide who will drive their car.

Dragsten said racing one of the soapbox cars is exciting and fun and there is next to no danger involved.

"The cars are designed so that they cannot make any sharp turns which could cause an accident," he said. "There can be some movement form side to side, but very little. Once you get started, you have to go straight."

There is a weight limit for the driver and the car. The combined weight in the super stock division is 230 pounds and 200 in the stock division.

The Troy Derby Association is sponsoring a construction clinic soon and before long the cars will be ready to take a few practice runs down the track.

The track will be marked off on Elm Street and that’s where the official race will take place.

"We want to give our drivers several opportunities to make runs before the big race so they will be comfortable in handing their cars," Brooks said. "The Troy Police Department will prepare the streets for closing and check the speeds of the cars which will probably be around 30 mph."

The day of the official race, the scouts from Boy Scout Troop 41 will sell refreshment and provide a tent covering for the finish line personnel.

"This is going to be an exciting event in Troy and Pike County," Brooks said. "It will be exciting for our sponsors, our drivers and the spectators. We hope the soapbox derby will become a tradition in Troy and we are looking forward to our winners representing us in Akron. Participating in the finals of the All American Soapbox Derby with 300 or 400 other winners will be a great experience."

Brooks said anyone who is interested in sponsoring one of the five remaining cars or would like more information about the derby may call her at 566-1563.