Clipart Illustration of Two Waving Checkered Racing Flags On Silver Poles

My Soap Box Derby Experience
By Brent Brown

I have always enjoyed cars and racing. I guess my Dad passed this gene on to me because he was the same. To enforce and promote this enjoyment in my youth was the Soap Box Derby.

My participation in the Soap Box Derby gave me the feel of what it was like to race and inspired to be a winner. It gave me skills to think about my car's design and promoted my ability to build something with my hands. This experience carried forward into my adulthood with my love to work with my hands. Whether it is a home project or working on my car, I firmly believe, the experience I gained by being a Soap Box Derby participant gave me this ability.

Two projects I have tackled since my Soap Box days were to build a 1947 Ford Street Rod and currently I am working on a 1940 Chevrolet Street Rod. My experience in building Soap Box Derby cars, gave me confidence in taking a 1947 Ford from a junkyard, totally dismantle it, and start from the frame up to build a great car. Plus it allowed my Dad and me to work together on a project.

The Soap Box Derby event is a great way for local businesses to give back to the youth of our community. Whether it is sponsoring or actually buying a Soap Box Derby car, the one thing people see is a business cares and the young person receiving that benefit will be a life long supporter of that business. My sponsor was Nicholls Buick.

Brent Brown
Shelter Insurance
Participant: Approx. 1965

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Clipart Illustration of Two Waving Checkered Racing Flags On Silver Poles

Being a part of the Soap Box Derby
By Melanie Harr-Hughes

Being a part of the Soap Box Derby was one of the highlights of growing up in Mid-Missouri.

The day of the race, I remember waking up unsure of of how the day would turn out, but I knew that at least my cool pink racing stripe I had worked so hard on would look great racing down the hill! When my dad and I started building my car several weeks earlier, I knew I was in for a treat. We laid out the plans, and decided who would be in charge of the certain aspects of the car. We completed the base of the car, the brake and steering system, the exterior, and it was finally time for me to pick the colors for the fabulous paint job! I knew exactly what it should be- pink and black. When my dad had participated in the SBD when he was a boy, his colors were black and gold for the MU Tigers. I figured I should do something similar, but with a girlish flair, of course. I didn't want anyone to think my car was a boy's car! Every good car should have a nickname- so we aptly named mine the "Mel-Mobile".

Racing down the hill was exhilarating. One, two, three heats went by, and the Mel-Mobile car kept coming out ahead. We got down to the final heat- it was between me and another girl about my same age. My car nosed ahead at the end for the final win!

Winning was great, but the overall experience of building a fully functional car was even better. It provided me with skills that I can look back on, even today many years later. If you're considering being a part of the SBD, jump in with both feet and have a blast! Even if your car doesn't end up winning, you'll be a part of an elite group of racers- and plus, at what other time can you brag to your friends that you've raced down broadway, with your parents waving from the sidelines?

Good luck, and don't forget to pick a cool color for your racing stripe!

Melanie Harr-Hughes
Creative Director, Tate Publishing

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Soap Box Derby Racing:
By Drew Holmes

To me, soap box derby racing was a great hobby that helped me grow as an individual as well as to bond with my family over an almost ten-year span. It helped me create a great sense of sportsmanship and enduring friendships with people all over the country. Growing up I can remember what a great time I had traveling to different parts of the country. I had the opportunity to experience different race tracks and be a proud representative of Columbia, MO. I will always remember how soap box derby was a big part of my life growing up, and was something I enjoyed doing. Soap box helped shape who I am today, and some day I hope that my kids will be inspired to participate in a wonderful family activity such as this.

There are so many stories and events that come to mind when I think about my time doing soap box. One paragraph is hardly enough to capture the depth of my experience and feeling for this wonderful activity.

Drew Holmes
Lowe's Home Furnishings
1st Place, Stock: 1996
1st Place Masters: 1998

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My Soap Box Derby:
By Norm Lampton

When I was 12 my father took all of his kids to the KC soap box derby which at that time was held in Swope Park.  I was so excited about the Soap Box derby that I got my father's permission to build a car for the next year derby (1957).

Dad set down some rules: 1. I had to do the work myself but he would help with showing me how; 2. I had to raise the money myself; I got my Dad's Lion's club to sponsor the car {but I had to give an oral presentation to both the club and the club board}. 3. I had to keep my grades up. 4. I had to still help around the house.

I was not good with craftsmanship; so there were some false starts.  However the car was finished in time for the inspection that took place 2 weeks before the race. Do they still do that?  The inspectors put seals on some things but I can't remember what. The wheels had to be standard from Akron.

The big day came; I won the first heat but lost the second.  I think that put me in like 42nd place.  The Lion's club took the car to the state convention to show what they did that year. Since they owned the car they kept it.  I don't know what happened to it. I started finding girls and my life moved on.

Good luck on the Soap Box Derby.

Norm Lampton
Columbia Attorney

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My experience with the Soap Box Derby:
By Tia Stamper-Felts

My introduction to the Soap Box Derby could not have come at a more pivotal point in my life.  Struggling in school, confidence was as low as it gets.  My father and I had watched the derby several times, and finally, I was old enough to participate!  (9yrs)  For weeks, we prepared my car, through blood sweat and tears (mostly all my fathers ;) secured a pretty cool sponsor and was even given my lucky number - 21.

The day of the race was full of nerves, and produced one of the most memorable quotes in my family.  After my first 2 runs, my dad asked how it felt, I replied "I LOVE this, I am beating ALL these boys!"  One of which, included Kenny Edwards, and I hear, through my father, is anxious for a re-match at some point!  ;)

I ended up placing first in the Stock Car group, and having the opportunity to travel with my family to Akron Ohio, and participate in the National Soap Box Derby, where I unbelievably placed 7th in the Stock Division. 

The Soap Box Derby gave me something to hold my head high for.  It gave me a sense of accomplishment, pride, gave my family an opportunity to grow closer together, and also helped me with learning to grow up.  I know this sound cliche, but it is really all very true.  Had I not had the experience with the SBD, who knows where I would have been able to find all of those new characteristics.  The SBD creates an opportunity for children, unlike any other in this city.  At the end of the experience, you have a finished product you can be proud of, and a head full of memories that help pave the road for the future.  I promise you, my children will be participating when they are old enough!

I value the Downtown Optimist Club so much for what they continue to do for the children in our community. 

Many, Many thanks. 

Tia Stamper-Felts
1st Place, Stock: 1992

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Clipart Illustration of Two Waving Checkered Racing Flags On Silver Poles

My Soap Box Derby Career
By Trevor Tatlow

I started my Soap Box Derby career when I was 11 and every year from my first racing experience until I could no longer cram my body in a Soap Box car, the annual Soap Box Derby race has been something that I look forward to every year. Not only did the Derby give me one day a year of the constant rush of competition, but it also taught me to never give up on yourself and that overcoming adversity only makes you stronger. For three consecutive years I raced in the Super Stock division gaining experience and also seeing other racers win first place and the coveted trip to Akron, Ohio. After my third year I made a promise to myself that next year I would give the race all of my effort and let nothing stand between me and the first place trophy.

After waiting all year for the race to begin and putting in countless hours preparing, it was finally my turn to race. Unfortunately, I lost my first race, but my day was not ove,r I was just moved to the underdog side of the tournament bracket. After that first race everything fell into place; contrary to what many would have done, I kept myself calm, collected, and kept on winning all the way into victory lane. Even though I started in what seemed like an impossible situation, I knew I had to stay calm and relaxed.

The things I gained from the Soap Box Derby experience that can never be taken away from me are a sense of accomplishment that came with being a champion, all of the great memories, the lifelong friendships I have gained, and most importantly to me is that I know that I truly can do anything as long as I pour 110% of my all into it. This sense of self-confidence is something that everyone in this world should have, and the Mid-Mo Soap Box Derby provided me with just that.

Trevor Tatlow
1st Place, Super Stock: 2008

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