Kitsap rookie makes good in All-American Soap Box Derby

Anthony Poggi (in white car)  placed No. 8 in the All-American Soap Box Derby stock division. - Photo courtesy Kim Poggi
Anthony Poggi (in white car) placed No. 8 in the All-American Soap Box Derby stock division.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Kim Poggi

POULSBO — Ten-year-old Anthony Poggi earned Kitsap’s first trophy at the 73rd annual All-American Soap Box Derby on July 24 in Akron, Ohio.

He crossed the finish line at No. 8 out of 125 in the stock car division, beating out kids from 40 states and five foreign countries. And he’s a rookie: This year marked both his first session racing derby cars and his first visit to the Big Race in Akron.

“I thought it was really cool,” said Anthony, of Poulsbo, who was 9 years old at the time of the race on July 24. He earned a spot in the race after winning the Kitsap Soap Box Derby’s championship in Poulsbo in June.

Anthony sailed through five heats in Akron in a white, no-frills stock-class car sponsored by the Silverdale Sunrise Rotary Club and manufacturing company TMF Inc. He races in a helmet and bubble goggles on quarter-inch tires.

Anthony joined more than 550 racers in Akron. Twice after arriving, he and other competitors were allowed to test out the track, which measures 953.75 feet.

It was “straight down and really fast,” Anthony said.

His fastest time was 29.49 seconds, .07 seconds slower than the overall fastest time. He clocked the third fastest heat time in his division.

The track’s long, steep slope was a change from the track in Poulsbo, which runs a portion of Dauntless Drive near the Olhava Marketplace. The route has a milder grade and is sticky with obstacles, including manhole covers, tire divots and a curve in the road.

Derby racers are coached to follow center lane lines with the noses of their car, and steer as little as possible.

With help from his dad, David Poggi, Anthony learned to adjust, clean and tinker with his car to achieve its fastest speed.

Parents are “a big part” of derby racing, said Anthony’s mom, Kim Poggi.

“It’s a support team, they work together,” she said.

Anthony started racing after he visited the Dauntless Drive track last year and tried a test run. He went on to win the local championship less than a year later. That win sent him to Akron alongside 13-year-old super stock division racer Danielle Bosch, of Allyn, and 12-year-old Masters division competitor Ryan Wixson, of Bremerton.

Stock cars have a 200-pound weight limit for drivers age 8-13. Super stock racers must be at least 10 and can build heavier cars. Racers in the masters division must also be at least 10 and can build a heavier car of a more sophisticated design.

Anthony wrote letters to friends and family asking for support, which raised $400 to help send him to Akron. He is now eyeing a rally championship, which would allow him another trip to the Big Race by earning enough points in area derby races. Because he placed this year, he can’t compete in a local championship using the same car.

The Kitsap Soap Box Derby Association has been holding races for more than eight years. The next session starts in August. Interested kids can watch the race and try a test ride. Cars are available through sponsorships.

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