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Kiwanis Soap Box Derby set to roll

Sue Guinn Legg • May 19, 2017 at 3:10 PM

The Johnson City Kiwanis Club is bringing the age-old sport of gravity car racing back to the community and inviting everyone to join them Saturday for the inaugural running of the club’s Soap Box Derby for drivers ages 7 to 18.

More than a year and half in the planning, the derby will be held from 10 a.m. until noon on a 1,000-foot downhill track at Borla Performance Industries’ access loop, located just off South Roan Street at 500 Borla Road.

More than a half-dozen young racers, their families and their pit crews have spent months building and testing the cars. Dozens of community businesses and individual volunteers have chipped in sponsorship funding and in-kind gifts of labor and materials. And everyone involved is anxious to see their work come to fruition on Saturday.

“These kids have worked so hard in preparation for this race, and we can’t wait to see the outcome of their efforts,” Kent Merrill, chairman of the club’s Derby Committee, said.

According to the club members, while Soap Box Derby racing has been around since the 1930s, it’s been more than four decades since the races were held in Johnson City.

The club’s goal is to give everyone in the community a chance to see the races as well as the opportunity to be involved.

The car kits come at a cost of close to $1,000 and most of those racing on Saturday have been built with sponsorship funding from area businesses.

Merrill said those seven cars will be eligible to race again next year and to help the club reach the 12-car minimum needed to have the Johnson City race sanctioned by the All-American Soap Box Derby organization and its winners eligible to advance to national championship derby held annually in Akron, Ohio.

Saturday’s derby feature will feature two divisions of Stock and Super Stock derby cars and drivers racing in double elimination heat races.

Admission is free and Merrill encouraged those who wish to attend to bring along their lawn chairs and picnic canopies to set up at trackside.

Proceeds from the race’s entry fees will be used to assist and support he local children in our region.

For more information about the local derby visit www.johnsoncitykiwanis.soapboxderby.org.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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