Soapbox champs advance to Akron

June 18, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The Civic Forum Soapbox Derby was conducted on Saturday June 15, 2013, on Kendall Ave in Portsmouth. Thirty-four racers competed in two divisions. The stock division had 16 racers and the super stock division had 18 racers.

The day started with a victory run for last year’s champions, Isabel Cassidy (stock division) and Cassidy Book (super stock division).

Racing began in earnest at 10:30 a.m. when the stock division started its double elimination heats. It became apparent the stock division would be a challenge between the veteran Jaclyn Burchett (10 years old and three-time racer) and the first time racer Meredith Book (Seven years old).

The veteran, Burchett, showed her prowess and captured the victory and the right to represent Portsmouth in Akron at the All-American Soapbox Championship in late July.

In super stock, last year’s second place finisher, Josh Russell, was determined to win the championship this time around. He dispatched all challengers, including his final test from Avery Book. Thereby securing his spot in Akron.

“The first place winners have punched their tickets to go to Akron and compete in the World Championships there,” Todd Book of Civic Forum said. “They will be there representing the Portsmouth community with kids from all over the United States, as well as kids from Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, there’s people from all over the world that come to race at Akron.”

Book said the participants spend the week in Akron as they determine who the best racers in the world are.

“We’re hoping we have some luck,” Book said. “The last couple of years my little girl has finished sixth in the world, both in the Stock division and the Super Stock division. So we’re hoping to continue that tradition and bring home some more trophies from Akron.”

Book said, in the past when Dan Cassidy and Book’s kids participated at Akron, the families took care of the expenses for the week themselves.

“At Civic Forum we do a lot of projects - the Fourth of July, which costs about $14,000 to $15,000 each year. We have to pay about $1,400 to have a Soap Box Derby race here. So the entry fee to Akron is paid to us, but their actual living expenses for the week, they will have to take care of themselves. We don’t have the funds to do that. The first year that we had the race, there was a kid that won that did need some help, and at that point, Civic Forum had more money in it’s coffers than it actually needed, so we gave them $250 to cover their hotel costs for their time up there. But since then, we haven’t had to worry about that, and this year we just don’t have the cash to give any away. We’re trying to find money right now to make sure that we’ve got all of our expense on the fireworks covered.”

The Daily Times asked if Civic Forum would accept donates to help the families defray the costs.

Book said anyone wishing to make a donation can call him at 740-353-3113 or Dan Cassidy at 740-353-3121.

Book, like the other volunteers, was at the site for the entire day, running race after race, setting up each category, and making sure all cars and drivers were where they should be.

“There’s a core group of about 12 members of the Civic Forum that really do a lot,” Book said. “We also have other people that aren’t really members, but they love to come out to the Soap Box Derby or for other events, and they are extremely helpful. We couldn’t do it without them. We’ve always got folks who come out and lift the cars and put them on trailers. We normally have a high school football team that helps with the heavy lifting.”

Book said Ed Hileman of Hileman Farms shows up each year with a trailer loaded with straw used to stop the cars after they cross the finish line for safety purposes. He said Civic Forum officials were happy with the overall operation for the day.

“I thought it went real well,” Book said. “The kids seemed to have a good time.”

Book said the crew began the day at 6 a.m. getting the road ready to race, and the day didn’t end until around 6:30-7 p.m.

“It is a serious endeavor,” Book said. “This having fun is a lot of work.”

The top finishers were as follows:


1. Jaclyn Burchett (10)

2. Meredith Book (7)

3. MacKenzie Miller (9)

4. Faith Harting (10)

5. Dakota Wilson (10)

6. Brennan Bauer (11)

7. Alex Cassidy (8)

8. JC Jones (10)

Super stock

1. Josh Russell (12)

2. Avery Book (12)

3. Emily Jones (12)

4. Isabel Cassidy (10)

5. Kaleb Lawson (14)

6. Mary Hatcher (12)

7. Simon Harting (12)

8. Zach Wagner (12)

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.