Superstar Substitute

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Before Saturday, Scott McLendon had been in a soapbox derby vehicle only once.

He expected to watch older brother Douglas McLendon try to win the stock car division of the derby. But around 7:30 a.m. Saturday, everything changed.

"We got to the race at 7:30 a.m., and a driver had pulled out," father Doug McLendon said. "They asked me if I knew of someone who wanted to drive, and I thought you had to be 9, so I said, 'No.' When they told me you only had to be 8, I thought about Scott. He had wanted to drive but we thought he was too young."

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Scott drove in the extra car Saturday, and now he will be headed to Akron. Scott won the race, despite rolling down the hill in his only practice run.

"I was sitting at home, waiting to go see my brother race," Scott said. "I was scared at first,, but then I said, 'It's not that bad.'"

Scott surprised everyone by being able to win.

However, Douglas also surprised some people with his attitude.

"As surprised as I was at Scott being able to win the race, I was equally surprised at how well Douglas took it," Doug said. "He was excited for Scott and when we were waiting at the top of the hill to hear the results of the last race, Ray Crosby had the walkie-talkie, and we couldn't hear the announcement because all you could hear was someone cheering.

"My father was down at the bottom of the hill taking pictures, and he said Douglas and his friend Andrew Bentley pulled Scott out of the car and told him he won. My dad said Scott got out and kissed the car."

Scott was not as convinced that his brother had the best intentions for him since the race.

"I guess he's been nice to me," Scott said.

Douglas said he does not beat up Scott because he beat him in the race

"I beat him up anyway," Douglas said.

Douglas has shown some grace, though, by agreeing to let Scott practice for the National Finals in his car. Scott's vehicle was impounded by the derby association. That is standard procedure for all vehicles that win races to prevent teams from altering their cars before the finals.

"I'll let him use it," Douglas said. "I'm not going anywhere."

The race in Akron is scheduled for July 26.