LIMA — For the 65th time, area soap box car racers pitted their vehicles against one another, trying to find that perfect mix of weight and aerodynamics, working to pick the perfect spot in their lanes to speed them to victory on the North Shore Drive track.
However, Mother Nature almost stopped the race in its tracks.
“We really didn’t know until Thursday night whether we’d be able to do this,” derby organizer Steve Skinner said. “Thankfully, the water receded Thursday morning and we figured we’d be good to go rain or shine.”
With the floodwater gone, Skinner and the other race organizers were determined that the derby would go on Saturday no matter what.
“We figured we’d race in the rain if we had to,” he said. “The derby was going to get done today.”
This year’s race featured 48 racers competing in the stock, super stock and masters divisions, the same number as last year. However, Skinner could still point to growth in the event’s popularity.
“Two of our racing families were on vacation this week and couldn’t race today,” he said. “But we still had the same number as last year. Three years ago, we only had about 22 cars.”
What keeps racers and their families coming back, according to Skinner, is the camaraderie that can grow as families work together to put their race car together.
“It’s great spending time with your kids and building these cars, letting them show an interest in them,” he said. “There’s probably more girls than boys here, and the ages range from 7 to 20.”
For the Myers family in Lima, interest in soap box derby racing spans three generations.
“I started this back in 1984,” Steve Myers said. “My dad was into it forever, but he passed away two years ago. He got me into it, and now most of the family’s into it now.”
Myers’ two daughters have been happy to carry on the tradition.
“This will be my sixth year,” Alyssa Myers, 13, said. “I finished third my first three years racing.”
“This is my third year,” Kylee Myers, 10, said.
While the girls continue to race for the fun of it, the family has another motivation for testing their mettle on the track.
“We’re keeping it going for my dad,” Steve Myers said. “He wouldn’t want us to stop.”
The winners in each division will go on to compete at the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby to be held July 19 to 25 in Akron.