Organizers on soap box over delay of mid-Missouri derby

Thursday, June 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:53 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

After building and practicing for months, Columbia’s racers might not be able to compete for the annual Mid-Missouri Soap Box Derby Race in downtown on Sunday.

The derby for 8 to 17 year olds was scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed. The Mid-Missouri Soap Box Derby Association had not sought or received approval from the city to close Broadway, the site of the race for the past 11 years, and had to be delayed, said Danny Lindsey, president of the Mid-Missouri Soap Box Derby Association.

“They changed the rules in the middle of the road and didn’t tell us,” Lindsey said.

This year is Lindsey’s first in charge of the derby.

“I was told we always went through (city manager) Ray Beck’s office,” Lindsey said. “Now we have to go through the City Council.”

Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman said the process to approve road closings had not been changed.

“I doubt that there’s been any change,” he said. “I suspect that they would call Ray Beck’s office, and he would bring it to the council and they would approve it.”

Hindman said he didn’t know if the soap box derby association was late in bringing the request to the attention of the city.

“I’m sorry that this has happened but this is a procedure we have had in place for some time,” Hindman said.

Hindman said the city has been criticized occasionally when a street closure has interfered with someone else’s plans.

“The idea is that people will know that this request is made and can let us know about their concerns,” he said.

Hindman said they could still ask the council at Monday’s meeting to close the street.

“I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t approve it,” he said.

Lindsey said he believes the derby will be approved for June 27.

Besides lost money in advertising, the change might cost the derby some of its racers. One competitor cannot make it on the rescheduled day, Lindsey said, and some other racers are trying to change plans they had already made for that day.

June 27 would also be the last day that the winners would be eligible to compete in Akron, Ohio, at the national soap box derby race.

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