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Annual Soap Box Derby makes return

Proud parents, families and friends crowded Market Street for the annual Williamsport Soap Box Derby on Saturday to show support as the participants put on their game faces.

After the event was put on hold last year due to the pandemic, many returning participants were eager to speed their way down the Market Street hill.

The event was split into two main divisions, stock division, for drivers ages 7 to 13 and superstock division, for drivers ages 9 to 18.

Winners of each division will go to the National Soap Box Derby Champion in Akron Ohio.

Deegan Bragg, 8, of Williamsport, who was sponsored by Master Contractors, was winner of the stock division while Guilianna Zenga, 11, of Williamsport, who was sponsored by Ciocca Honda, was first runner up of the stock division.

“I do this for fun because this isn’t an activity that I get to do often,” shared Zenga

“My favorite thing is just being able to race against other people, like (in) mario kart.”

As Zenga succeeded in most of her races, she shared her tips on going as fast as possible.

“I try to keep my head down as much as possible because if I don’t the aerodynamics will mess up,” she said

As for winning races, she explained that it can be bitter sweet.

“It feels really good. But at the same time, I feel sad. I’m just happy that people get to experience this.”

Her father, Paul Zenga, shared that was one of the most exciting parts of the Soap Box Derby was being able to watch his daughter build her own car,

“This is pretty exciting, but she loved building the car. (And) watching my daughter build the car herself this year.”

He continued, “She loves every part of this. We wish we would have joined earlier. We were really looking forward to this. We hope that she keeps having fun with it.”

Zenga’s step mother, Stacey French, shared her own excitement,

“She’s doing fantastic. She’s already looking forward to next year.”

She continued, “We love the event.”

Deegan Bragg’s, winner of the stock division, wasn’t expecting his big win. It was his first year competing at The Soap Box Derby.

“I wasn’t expecting to win,” he shared. Bragg also constructed his own car.

The superstock division was won by Bella Mertes, 12, sponsored by Baker Tilly. The runner up for the superstock division was Rachel Goocey, 10, sponsored by The Sons of Italy.

“I’m really happy,” shared Mertes.

Organizer of The Williamsport Soapbox Derby, Jim Campbell, shared his gratitude for being able to hold the event this year,

“We were glad to be racing this year. We are always so grateful for our drivers and their families. We are also always so grateful for our sponsors.”

To learn more about the event or how you can get involved, visit https://www.soapboxderby.org/williamsport.aspx.

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