Soapbox derby provides fun for families, kids

Sunday, June 8, 2008 | 10:18 p.m. CDT; updated 4:03 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Tucking his nose down into his car, Daniel Adams prepares for his first race. Adams' car was sponsored by the newest sponsor, Going Bonkers.

COLUMBIA — There were some notable faces racing Sunday in the 2008 Mid-Missouri Soap Box Derby as Mayor Darwin Hindman, Boone County Presiding Commissioner Ken Pearson, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton and Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase faced off.

The starting lineups: Hindman vs. Pearson and Deaton vs. Chase.


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Hindman took his race, beating Pearson by eight-tenths of a second.

“It was really fun,” Hindman said. “You can see how racing gets in your blood.”

Chase won her race, beating Deaton by almost two seconds.

“K-12 has to do it first to set the foundation for college, so it was appropriate that Superintendent Chase won,” Deaton said jokingly after his loss.

“We’re partners in crime,” Chase said, laughing.

Hindman and Chase both received trophies for their wins; Hindman’s read ‘From One Soap Box to Another,’ a reference to his political career, and Chase’s read ‘Education: The Key to Success’.

The sun shone, the wind blew and the heat bore down, but these were perfect racing conditions for the city’s 71st annual Soap Box Derby.

A row of brightly colored soapbox cars, gravity-powered cars used in the downhill races, were lined up on both sides of Broadway according to their division; stock, superstock and master.

About 35 drivers gathered around the starting lines for a pep talk and a group picture, and then they were ready to begin.

A crowd cheered on the racers, who ranged in age from 8 to 17. Parents, grandparents and other family members watched and helped the children race the two-tenths-mile track.

The derby is not only a family affair but also an event for the Downtown Optimist Club, one of the derby’s sponsors.

Greg Schneider and Rick Willard, the former and current presidents of the committee for the Soap Box Derby, kept things moving smoothly.

The Schneider and Willard clans were in full force; Colleen Schneider worked with Melissa Willard on the heat charts, taking racers’ times.

Optimist Club members Chuck Boots and Danny Lindsey, as well as the Schneiders’ children, Nick and Brittany, also played roles in this year’s derby.

The winners received trophies and will move on to the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio, but all racers left with participation trophies.

“That way, every kid gets something and a T-shirt,” Colleen Schneider said.

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