Road to Akron

It’s normal to see cars going down Market Street from Brandon Park to Little League Boulevard, but these drivers were too young to have driver’s licenses.

The annual Soap Box Derby took place Saturday with children, ages 7 to 18, competing to win a trip to Akron, Ohio, to compete in the national All-American Soap Box Derby championships.

The festivities kicked off at 8:30 a.m., with each driver being introduced to the crowd, along with their car. Once the drivers were introduced the derby officially began with the stock division featuring children ages 7 to 13 racing down the hill to see who had the fastest car.

The stock division cars can accommodate a driver up to about 5 feet and 3 inches tall with a weight of 125 pounds. There were 32 drivers entered in the division.

Reilly Kriner was the first-place winner in the division and Austin Schwarzer was runner-up.

Kriner said he practiced a lot to earn first place in the division.

“I did this last year and didn’t come in first, but coming in first place this year is the best feeling in the world,” he said.

The super stock division racer

ranged from age 9 to 18. There were 26 drivers centered.

Cyza Matthews came in first in the super stock division, and Tyler Bolton was runner-up.

“It was a pleasure to be here,” Matthews said.

Both Kriner and Matthews will travel to Akron the last weekend in July to compete in the All-American Soap Box Derby. They will leave the local area the Sunday before the Saturday race and enjoy a week away to explore a new city.

There also was a special kids exposition race featuring eight children with disabilities, who took turns racing each other in a special two-seat car, with the assistance of a driver.

“The highlight of the day was the special races kids,” Don Noviello, assistant race director, said.

Noviello said he believes the race is a strong bonding experience for the participants and their family members.

“The kids gave their absolute best to win,” said Jim Campbell, a member of the steering committee for the race and president of HOPE Enterprises. “There was good sportsmanship all day long and we are proud of the people that won.”