Soap box derby racers battle the elements

Sunday, June 13, 2010 | 8:18 p.m. CDT; updated 9:15 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 13, 2010
TJ the Tiger and Tim Fete, chairman of Children's Health at University Hospital, take off down Broadway during the third and final celebrity race for Mid Missouri Soap Box Derby Race on Sunday. Fete, originally slated to race Dan Rothery, CEO of Boone Hospital & Clinics, beat the tiger by 5.591 seconds.

COLUMBIA — Racers at the Mid Missouri Soap Box Derby battled the heat, then storms on Sunday.

Just before 4 p.m., with only two championship races left, heavy rains began to drench the raceway on Broadway between Seventh and Providence. With lightning and thunder approaching in the distance, it was unclear if the champions would be crowned.


Related Media

Related Articles

After 30 minutes of storms, a moisture-free 30-minute window prevailed and racers and organizers scrambled to complete the final races. Luckily for Thomas Ferguson and Jordan Weltha, the weather cooperated just long enough to secure their first-place titles.

Ferguson won the stock division (ages 8 to 14), while Weltha won the super stock division (ages 10 to 17).

Weltha, a second year competitor, spoke about what it was like to win.

"I was really excited about it, I was just so happy," he said. "I've worked on my car since last July."

Weltha and Ferguson will get the chance compete in the national soap box derby in Akron, Ohio. Weltha remains optimistic about his chances at the bigger stage.

"I think I have a good chance to do really well."

Other top finishers in the stock division included second-place finisher Haley McKernan and third-place finisher Sam Williams. In the super stock division, Nathaniel Adams took second and Sam Duncan took third.

Before the rain came, Sunday’s soap box derby was all about the families and the heat.

As temperatures rose close to 90 degrees, people sought relief from the sun under the awnings of surrounding buildings.

Dylan Soper, one of the racers, had a large supporting cast of family and friends cheering him on – mostly from the shade.

Soper, a first time racer, has seven sisters. According to his Aunt Candace Howard, days like this are special to the only boy in the house.

“We understand what that can be like,” Howard said. “We like to show him a little bit more.”

Jacque Soper, Dylan Soper’s grandmother, was one of his supporters at the race. She talked about his excitement for the race, something that was written all over Dylan Soper’s face as he spoke about going down the hill.

“You go really fast,” Dylan Soper said. “I was kind of scared at first.”

By his third race, Soper said he was no longer nervous. His favorite part was in the waning moments of races.

“At the bottom, you don’t know who’s going to win. So it’s exciting.”

Dylan Soper’s father, Matt Soper, helped build the car and enjoyed the experience, saying that they’d be back next year.

Howard attested to this, “They had a blast building the car together.”

The event, which started at 8:30 a.m., also featured some celebrity races including MU Chancellor Brady Deaton who took a break from conference realignment talks to beat Superintendent of the Columbia School System Chris Belcher by .064 seconds.

Rick McKernan, the public relations chairman for the soap box derby, spoke about this experience for the racers.

“You have an eight-year-old, six inches off the ground going 25 mph,” McKernan said. “It’s a thriller.”

Dr. Timothy Fete, Chairman of Children’s Health at the University Hospital, was another of the celebrities that raced Sunday.

Fete talked about his nerves before the race.

“Oh you bet I’m nervous,” he said. “I have the first time jitters.”


Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.