Soapbox racers vie for bragging rights

Forty-third Street played host to racers, soapboxes and hay bales at the eighth annual Ponoka Downhill Derby June 9.

Green light for go. Hayden Galbraith readies himself for a test run at the Soapbox Derby June 9.

Forty-third Street played host to racers, soapboxes and hay bales at the eighth annual Ponoka Downhill Derby June 9.

Competitors from six to 18 years old from Ponoka, Blackfalds, Gull Lake, and other nearby towns tested theirs skills for soapbox speedster bragging rights. Cars decorated in an array of colours and shapes were cool enough to make Disney’s Lightning McQueen jealous. One of the race organizers, Karen Williams, said each competitor received a ribbon for participation, with trophies awarded to first, second, and third in each class. A best in show ribbon for each class was awarded to the most imaginative soapbox.

“I think the kids have a good time, it’s a good community event,” she stated.

Racers were able to take a few test runs to get used to the hill and their soapboxes as this was the first time some had a chance to test it on a hill, and for others, to drive.

Despite the threat of rain, the derby continued; racers tested their grit against each other and hay bales to make the finish line first. One racer hit the hay after losing control of his car, and another racer, Carson Thompson’s car landed on its side after crossing the finish line. Thompson was unhurt but had one question, “What was my speed?”

Kody Westling, had a run in with a curb and was taken to the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre as a precaution, but Williams spoke to his parents and he was doing well.

A set of parents did have the opportunity to race against each other before it rained. Kristen van Maarion, another organizer, said there was interest from parents in previous years to race, so they put together a silent auction for those wanting to compete, with proceeds going to the Ponoka Food Bank. She feels the downhill derby is something for the entire family.

“It’s great for kids and parents getting involved to build these things together,” she said.

Participants and viewers alike were entertained by Sunny 94 radio host Darcy Stingel.

“I’m practicing my race day announcing,” he joked.

Five classes made up the contingent of 38 racers; A class was ages six to seven, B class was ages eight to nine, C class was ages 10 to 11, D class was ages 12 to 13, and E class was ages 14 to 16.

The fastest speed of the day was 35 km/h by Mason Deditch. Although soapboxes were unable to race in the finals because of rain, organizers took the fastest times in the semifinals to come up with the winners.

Class A: Serge Klimec, 22.133 seconds fastest speed in the semi finals.

Class B: Brayden Jackson, 21.259.

Class C: Jaxson Overacker, 22.352.

Class D: Mason Deditch, 22.234.

Class E: MacKenzie Langille, 23.384.

Each participant also received a downhill derby T-shirt.

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