Fredericksburg Soap Box Derby Rolls Through Downtown
Bobby Ulrich, 15, won the Super Stock division. Jacob Polcha, 10, of Fredericksburg won the Stock division. In the Masters division, Kristen Hayes, 16, of Spotsylvania took top honors. The Super Kid division was won by Tyler Fry, 13, of Fredericksburg.
The free family-oriented event allows boys and girls to experience the thrill of downhill racing.
The weather was perfect this morning and afternoon, the cars were tuned-up to go their fastest and the drivers had steely looks of determination on their faces, as well as huge smiles and some painted faces.
No, it was not the Indy 500. This was the annual Fredericksburg Soap Box Derby.
There were 120 boys and girls ranging in age from 9 to 17 who raced engineless soap box derby cars down the William Street hill, relying on the forces of gravity and their skill in steering to propel them to a win.
The races started at 9 a.m. and lasted until almost 3 p.m. as racers from four different divisions—Stock, Super Stock, Masters, and Super Kids for physically challenged children—took turns competing in different heats.
Friends and family members lined William Street cheering and ringing cowbells in support of their racers. Many residents came out just to watch and enjoy the family friendly atmosphere. At the top of the hill, near the start line, activities and food could be found.
Racers lined up with their cars to enter the start blocks. At the count of three the starter released the cars and they came off the ramps and started rolling down the hill toward the finish line. The announcer read off the names and car numbers of the competitors as they gathered speed. Slow at first but rapidly accelerating, the sleek, aerodynamic little cars coasted down William Street to the finish line just past Littlepage Street. After crossing the line, they hit the brakes as they bring their vehicles to a halt. Drivers jumped out of their cars and often high-fived each other, as the thrill of a fun run overrides the matter of who won. At the bottom of the hills, the riders and their cars are given a shuttle ride back to the staging area at the top.
Jamie Snellings, 17, of Spotsylvania was driving a Super Stock car and had been competing since she was 9. She won the event in 2007 and said that “staying close to the cones” was the secret to success. Her father, Phil, explained that the drivers raced twice down the hill, once on each side, so that there was not a competitive advantage of either lane. They also exchange wheels after the first race for the same reason.
Justin Thorpe, 11, was competing in his first race. He said that he was nervous but also excited. He said he had practiced a bit and was hoping to win.
Ten year-old Elizabeth Dosado from Caroline County competed in the Stock division and said that even though she did not win the elimination round, she had fun. It was her second year of competing in the event.
At the end of the day it was Bobby Ulrich, 15, of Fredericksburg who won the Super Stock division. Jacob Polcha, 10, of Fredericksburg won the Stock division. In the Masters division, Kristen Hayes, 16, of Spotsylvania took top honors. The Super Kid division was won by Tyler Fry, 13, of Fredericksburg.
The Fredericksburg Soap Box Derby is one of many local races held around the country every year. The winners will get to compete in the National Soap Box Derby, held in Akron, Ohio, in July. Drivers compete in the national event for prizes, including a $5,000 scholarship.