Jackson girl, Thebes boy win Cape Soap Box Derby

Sunday, May 3, 2009
Jeston Dewrock awaits the start of his stock division race Saturday morning at the annual Cape Girardeau Rotary Club Soap Box Derby. (Kit Doyle)

Two drivers will compete in the national Soap Box Derby after winning Saturday's races on North Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau.

Ally McHughs, 10, of Jackson won the stock division, and her cousin, Zachary McHughs, 9, of Thebes, Ill., took first place in the super stock division. This was Zachary's first competition. They will compete in the national race in Akron, Ohio, on July 25.

Zachary's advice to other drivers was, "Just put your head in the game and don't get a big head. That's what my mom calls it."

The key to maintaining speed is to make minimal steering adjustments while staying low in the car.

"I get down till my helmet hits the foam," said Charlie Ledbetter, 10, of Whitewater referring to the protective padding around the rim of the driver's hatch.

Ten-year-old Hannah Scherer, of Oran, rests in her #46 Super Stock car between races Saturday morning, May 2, 2009, at the Cape Girardeau Rotary Club Soap Box Derby. Over 30 participants competed in the annual event. (Kit Doyle)

Electric eyes posted at the finish line determined the winners of each heat, made up of two races, and which driver will move on to the winner's bracket.

Kathleen Harold, 10, of Cape Girardeau sponsored by Chateau Girardeau, raced for her second year and was greeted with high-fives from her friends after winning one of her races. She was introduced to the event years before by helping in the pit crew for a friend.

"I like racing better," she said.

The Cape Girardeau Rotary Club holds the Soap Box Derby each year as a fundraiser, drawing volunteers and drivers from across the area to compete. Parents and adults teach children basic mechanics and physics as they help to assemble the cars.

"This is an opportunity to give back to the community," said Robin Cole, owner of event sponsor The Rite Group. Speaking of drivers who come from behind, he said: "it teaches these kids to never, ever give up."

Mike Rushing, of event sponsors Rushing Marine and New McKendree Church, said, "Their first time down they're a little scared, but every trip back up the hill you see their confidence and their self-esteem build."

Drivers this year wore green bracelets to honor Natalie Wood, who placed third in the previous year's stock division. Natalie died in a motorcycle accident last year, and a car was built in her memory. Her family has volunteered in the event because of the value they see in the derby. Older members of their church's youth groups work with the pit crews and the younger members drive the cars.

"It's good for the older kids to help, and it pulls the two groups together," said Ed Wood, Natalie's father.

Soap Box Derby results

Stock division?

1st: Ally McHughs, 10, Jackson?

2nd: Mary Grace Rice, 10, Jackson?

3rd: Annie Yuede, 12, Cape Girardeau

4th: Hayden Shovan, 8, Jackson

Super stock division?

1st: Zachary McHughs, 9, Thebes, Ill.

2nd: Natalie Grimm, 10, Cape Girardeau

3rd: Charlie Ledbetter, 10, Whitewater

4th: Dayton Seabaugh, 11, Cape Girardeau

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