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Racing the Derby Downs
AKRON, Ohio — The odds weren’t exactly in Jake Poggi’s favor when he stepped into his soap box derby car and prepared to race in the 76th All-American Soap Box Derby Championship.
Jake, 7, was up against some stiff competition, his mother, Kim, said. The weather, too, was less than desirable.
“It was rainy, horrible,” Kim Poggi said.
“It was a fast, wet track,” Jake said.
To top it off, Jake was racing against at least one local soap boxer who frequented the track.
But Jake had a few tricks up his sleeve. Along with his homemade car, sponsored by TMF, Inc., and The Weigelt Company, Jake had his lucky Curious George doll with him. He also had a few seasons of racing under his belt.
Jake was one of 124 competing in the Local Stock Division of the championships, July 27. The Poulsbo youth finished seventh.
The championships are a week-long event in the last full week of July. The week of festivities end with the races and trophy ceremonies.
Jake was the only soap box racer from the region to place in the top nine at the championships, Kim Poggi said.
Jake wasn’t the only racer representing Kitsap, however. Jake’s brother, Anthony, raced in the Rally Super Stock Division. Hannah Welzbacker of Seabeck raced in the Local Super Stock Division. Though the other to racers were close to reaching the finals, they were unable to do so. Welzbacker did earn the title of Best Decorated Local Super Stock Car.
Soap box derby competitors travel to Akron every year to compete for scholarships and prizes. The championships are held on a 954-foot racing track called Derby Downs. The track is specifically designed for soap box racing.
Racers qualify for the championships by competing in local soap box competitions. Jake is one of many from the Kitsap Soap Box Derby Association. Races are held on Dauntless Drive NW in Poulsbo throughout the year. The next races are Aug. 17-18. More information can be found at www.soapboxderbykids.com.
Though Jake earned a trophy that stands nearly as tall as himself, one of his favorite aspects of the championships was making new friends in Akron.