Derby Days in Troy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2003

Heath Shiver was not supposed to do that well at the Soapbox Derby Saturday in Troy.

Shiver raced for the first time Saturday and nearly pulled out a win. However, Scott McLendon took home the stock car division championship and a trip to Akron, Ohio. Jamie Howard of Columbus, Ga., was victorious in the superstock division.

Shiver lost early in the double elimination tournament, but he fought his way back to the championship heat. He defeated McLendon in the first heat to force the "if necessary race."

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"I thought I was going to lose," McLendon said.

McLendon won the first phase of the second meeting by .076 seconds. Shiver pulled out a narrow .005 second win in the second phase, but the differential gave the win to McLendon.

"I hit something on the track in that first race that caused me to lose some speed. That cost me the race," Shiver said.

Jonathan Miller finished third in the stockcar division.

The super stock race was not nearly as close. Howard dominated the whole day, winning most races by more than half a second.

The only phase she lost was the final one to Skylar Sexton after race officials made them swap wheels. Howard one the first phase by .512 seconds, so even though she lost to Sexton by .291 seconds, she won based on the differential score.

"This was very much fun," Howard said.

Howard, whose grandfather and father were also soapbox champions, used Elm Street's crown to her advantage. The yellow stripes down the center of the street are higher than the outer lanes, and Howard took notice.

"You have to look to see where (the road) slopes," Howard said. "Since the road slopes from the inside, you have to stay on the outside to get more speed. You don't want to go outside the lines, though."

The winners will take part in the national finals July 26 in Akron, Ohio

"We had a good race with a lot of good racers," regional director of the Soapbox Derby Association Norm Perry said. "Troy always puts on a good race."

However, Saturday's race was delayed for 90 minutes because of a lack of manpower. The cars have to be weighed before the race, and a lot of setup is involved.

"The lady who puts this on, Nancy Brooks, does a good job, but she doesn't have much help," Perry said. "We were worried we wouldn't be able to finish the race because of the rain that was supposed to come in. We needed more volunteer help."