All-American Soap Box Derby set for Saturday

Friday, May 2, 2003

A section of North Sprigg Street will serve as a race track Saturday for the fourth annual All-American Soap Box Derby in Cape Girardeau.

Thirty cars and drivers are scheduled to take part in the competition in front of Blanchard Elementary School that will take place on both lanes of the roadway. Twenty-eight of the participants and their gravity-powered cars will participate in the stock division. Two others have been entered in a new super-stock division, but event organizers said only the champion of the stock division will go to Akron, Ohio, in July to participate in the national race.

There weren't enough people signed up for the super-stock division to qualify for national competition, organizers said.

Super-stock cars look more like race cars, said Jerry Sanders of the Cape Girardeau Rotary Club which sponsors the local Soap Box Derby. "It is a much sleeker looking car," he said. But like the traditional cars, they are powered by gravity.

The stock division involves the traditional soap box car, he said. "A soap box car is basically like a canoe on four wheels," he said.

The races are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and likely will last until early afternoon, Rotary Club members said.

It will be a double elimination tournament with each driver making two runs in any single race. The start of the race will be at the top of the hill in front of Blanchard Elementary School. The finish line will be at the bottom of the hill just north of the Bertling Street intersection.

The finish line will be outfitted with a computerized timing device that will record even the most split-second margins of victory, Sanders said.

Denise Stewart, president-elect of the Rotary Club, said members of St. Francis Medical Center, the corporate sponsor of the event, will assist club members with the races.

The cars will be inspected and weighed at Blanchard Elementary School at 6 tonight and helmets will be distributed to the drivers, who can range in age from 9 to 16.

Each entry -- car and driver -- in the stock division can't weigh more than 200 pounds, organizers said.

The event is a fund-raiser for the Rotary Club, which uses the money to help various youth-oriented groups in the community, organizers said.

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