Third annual Soapbox Derby fosters fun and family bonding

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Jul. 14, 2011
Jimmy Gilbert drives, as his teammate, Bobby Moeller, expertly maneuvers their car around the track despite having a cast on one arm. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.
Jimmy Gilbert drives, as his teammate, Bobby Moeller, expertly maneuvers their car around the track despite having a cast on one arm. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.

Saturday, July 9, turned out to be a beautiful day at the races, at least for the Soapbox Derby in Enfield, sponsored by Educational Resources for Children.

Twenty-four teams turned out to race their vibrantly-painted cars around the track in front of Higgins School on North Main Street. The racecars sported everything from lightning bolts to stars to abstract splatters. Some even had foam seats for a more comfortable ride.

For three consecutive Saturdays leading up the race, parents and kids wielded hammers and paintbrushes to build and decorate their cars at Home Depot.

“It’s a great opportunity for dads and moms to work on a project with their kids,” said Beth Mangan, ERFC volunteer and community programs coordinator.

Gary Theriault helped his daughter, Sarah, paint each side of the car a different color. “For three weeks in a row, we were having Daddy-Daughter Day,” he said.

The race, which occurred during Enfield’s Fourth of July weekend celebration, has grown from 12 participants in its first year to nearly 50 for the third annual event. Mangan said the derby has become a popular event that kids look forward to.

“Last year it rained, and every single kid came and did it,” she added.

The Soapbox Derby has three divisions: one for younger kids, one for older kids and a third for mixed ages. Some partners are siblings or friends; others, like Korben Robinson and Christina Savio, signed up individually and became teammates. Neither child seemed to mind racing with a new friend - they both said they entered because the derby sounded like fun. They named their car “The Mayflower” because “it was a very tough ship and it’s going to be a tough car to beat,” said 6-year-old Robinson.

Two teams raced against one another per heat, as teams worked their way through the derby bracket. Each heat consisted of two laps. After the first lap, the teammate who was the “pusher” traded to become the driver. They also had to switch lanes to even out the inside corner advantage.

Richie and Faith Robotham worked their way to the top of the bracket to finish first in the Division One championship heat, and Justin Beiler and Ezra Audet won for Division Two. Anthony Priester and Jovan McGowan took home the trophy for Division Three. The winners were also awarded tickets to Stafford Motor Speedway.


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