Soap box derby goes A-Oh-Tay
June 10, 2008 · Updated 4:18 PM
POULSBO It was a scene straight out of The Little Rascals this weekend on Dauntless Drive at Olhava.
Colorful coaster cars and helmeted drivers peppered the make-shift track near Poulsbos College Marketplace for the Kitsap Soap Box Derby Associations first Little Norway race.
But there certainly were no He-Man Woman Haters in sight.
Boys and girls alike from the ages of 8-17 put the pedal to the metal or in this case let gravity do its thing as their cars sped from 15-20 mph down a curved portion of roadway.
And it was maneuvering between coned lanes along the curve that proved most difficult.
If youve ever had tunnel vision and tried to drive at the same time, thats what its like, said Ryan Fauser, 16, a driver from Salem, Ore.
He and buddies William Sarchet, 13, and Zaine Stapleton, 15, all took part in the racing, which saw about 40 drivers both Saturday and Sunday.
The three drive masters cars, the heaviest of the autos allowed. Younger drivers start out with stock cars, and the intermediate tool downhill in super stocks.
Sarchet, of Camus, gave mixed reviews of the new track, but said derby racing is an activity he likes because of the friends he encounters.
Its fun. You get to meet a lot of people, he said. And meet people he has, including derby drivers from all over the United States, New Zealand and Japan during the Soap Box Derby World Championships in Akron, Ohio.
Here, the derby is usually held on Ridgetop Boulevard in Silverdale, or in Bremerton, but in an effort to find a new place for their track to call home without disturbing the flow of nearby businesses, the association decided to give Dauntless Drive a try.
Association president Bill Court said they will review the event and determine if theyd like to continue using the location through the season. They have permission from the Poulsbo City Council to use the road for future summertime events, as well as the countys go-ahead to use Ridgetop if needed. The association is sponsored by the Silverdale Sunrise Rotary Community.
Stapleton, from Hood River, Ore., said on Dauntless the cars starting ramps were raised especially high to compensate for the relatively slow grade of the hill. Normally, he said, tracks are straight, speedier shots.
At first the kids thought the track was a little slow, said Court. By the end of the day they enjoyed the track because of the long, sweeping curve.
He also said the location had one obvious, immediate benefit: It was nice to know we werent going to have cars pulling out in the middle of the track.
The roughly quarter-mile stretch still proved a challenge, as the pulley-steering systems in soap box cars arent as responsive as those of a normal car, said Philippe Grandjean, whose 12-year-old son Jake took part in the contest.
He and Jake took on derby racing as a father-son activity after seeing a race in Bremerton. Not only have they had a good time, but Jake isnt such a bad driver, either, Grandjean said.
And when it comes to Poulsbos track, he said it may be slower, but at least it isnt slowing down other traffic.
You really dont shut down a major thoroughfare. From that standpoint I think its better, he said.
McKenna White, 9, was first across the finish line in her first-ever derby race. Mom Carey White and grandmother Judy Lowe were certainly proud though chilly while watching from the sidelines.
She was just kind of in awe, Lowe said after McKennas downhill debut. Its great family entertainment.
The associations next Poulsbo race is scheduled for April 26-27.
For more information, visit www.soapboxderbykids.com.
Before running off to take his place behind the starting blocks, Sarchet had a single last piece of advice for potential derby runners: Just one more thing: Dont crash.