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.
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
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