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Local soap box race needs speed-freaks

Soap box cars ready and available for new racers during local derby next weekend

September 3, 2005

A standard soap box derby car takes several hours to assemble from a pre-fabricated kit of materials. All-American Soap Box Derby rules require racers to assemble their own cars, without the help of parents or adults. Hood River kids between eight and 16 years old will have the chance next weekend, Sept. 9-10, to test their high-speed driving skills during the 2005 Hood River Lions Club Fall Gorge Classic in cars already assembled and race-ready.

With a section of Wasco Street closed to street traffic during the race, kids, at least for a short time, can ignore the speed limit and drive a car at will without a license.

The Hood River Lions Club helped start local soap box derby racing about four years ago by purchasing 10 new cars and bringing an annual race to Hood River. Today, a few of those 10 cars are still available and waiting for young speed- demons to take control of their wheels. And the upcoming Fall Gorge Classic is a sanctioned All-American Soap Box Derby race that draws competitors from around the northwest to earn points towards qualifying for the annual world championships in Akron, Ohio.

Interested participants have two options to try racing next weekend. The first is to contact race organizer Jeff McCaw (386- 4950) by Wednesday, Sept. 7 and reserve one of the available cars to actually compete in the sanctioned race. The second option is to test drive one of the cars on the course just for fun, on Saturday or Sunday during the races. According to McCaw, the best time to try a car will be about noon on both days, and anyone interested can inquire at the top of the course.

Soap box derby cars, driver included, weigh exactly 200 lbs. stock, 230 lbs. super-stock and 255 lbs. masters. They cruise down hills at about 30 mph and are equipped with cable steering systems and a brake pedal.

Boys and girls race together in the double-elimination format, with each race consisting of two trips down the hill. After the first trip, racers must swap wheels and lanes for the second run. The fastest combination of the two runs wins that race.

“The races are a lot of fun,” local soap box racer Nathan McCaw said. “You get to meet a lot of new people and make new friends.” McCaw was the 2004 All-American Soap Box Derby World Champion.

“It’s a fun sport because you get to go fast when you race,” said little brother Adam McCaw. “I’m going to be a NASCAR driver when I grow up.”

“It’s funny, kids get really excited about racing, but also because they do get going so fast, it scares some of them,” commented Jeff McCaw. “For any new kids, we can take them down the hill halfway and then start them if they want … Another cool thing the Lions do is if someone can’t afford to, they can provide scholarships for the kids.”

Racing will be from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday next weekend on Wasco Street in front of the Sprint Building. Anyone interested in participating in the race or in soap box derby racing can contact Jeff McCaw for more information: (541) 386- 4950.

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