CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) — A Utah boy has won himself a spot in the national All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio, this summer.
Blake Barrett, of Cedar City, raced down the town's Main Street on Saturday to claim first place in the in the 2nd annual Cedar City Soap Box Challenge and qualify for the national competition in July.
It was Barrett's first time in the race, and he said he didn't expect to win.
"I just kept it straight," he told The St. George Spectrum.
"And in the last part, I leaned back and went straight forward to get that last jump," he said. "It was pretty cool."
The national downhill race of gravity-powered cars celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. It started in Dayton and moved to Akron a year later. It's been held annually since then, except during World War II.
Joe Mazur said when he took over as the derby's national president in 2011 that his goal was to expand the number of race cities from the 123 that participated at that time to more than 200 in five years.
Cedar City joined the competition last year with a course on Royal Hunte Driver near the Aquatic Center, but the route mover this year to Main Street between Center Street and 200 North.
Barrett said his uncle, A.J. Baruffi, owner of The Grind coffee shop, and family friend Byron Linford helped him build his car for the Super Stock sanctioned class of Saturday's racing, which included 30 cars in four classes.
Linford, the Cedar City events coordinator, helped organize the race along with local businessmen Buzz Bronsema, owner of Above All Auto, and Andy Funderburk, owner of Funder Welding and Design. They worked with the city to secure the necessary approval for formal sanctioning from the All-American Soap Box Derby Association.
"The three of us pooled our ideas together and had a vision for what we wanted this to be," Funderburk said.
Bronsema said the local junkyard he owns is the perfect place to gather up parts for the free-wheeling derby cars.
"We thought our kids were old enough to get into it, and we thought it would be something fun for the city," he said.
Information from: The Spectrum, http://www.thespectrum.com
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