Wednesday, August 28, 2013
When asked what her favorite thing is about racing, Soddy-Daisy’s 10-year-old Ashton Stevenson immediately replies, “Winning.” Not the rush of the wind or the exhilaration of speed.
It’s no surprise then that she’s a local stock champion in soap box derby. Her title afforded her the opportunity to travel to Akron, Ohio, in late July for the All-American Soap Box Derby, along with last year’s local stock champion and current rally racer Jessica Little, 11, also of Soddy-Daisy, and local super-stock champion Bailey Crittenden, 15.
Though the girls didn’t place in the international competition this year, they definitely held their own. The speed contest was made up of nearly 200 local champs and rally racers from all over the world.
“We met a kid from Japan, a kid from Switzerland and a couple of kids from Canada,” said Bailey.
“I like to meet new people and make friends,” added Jessica, referring to why she likes racing in the soap box derby. “And I just like the racing. It’s fun going down the hill — it’s an experience some people don’t get.”
Director of Chattanooga’s local program Michael Stewart said the All-American soap box scene is very strict when it comes to weigh-ins of the racers and their cars, making sure everything — even the exact way the cars are built — is up to regulation.
“There were events, runs, weigh-ins every single day for a week [involved in the All-American Soap Box Derby],” added Bailey’s dad, Bill Crittenden. “It was non-stop.”
Parents of racers say they particularly love the sport because they can get just as involved as their child. As car handlers during the race, they are often the ones helping the racers into the soap box cars before gravity sends them speeding down the hill toward the finish line.
“Parents are just as much involved as the child,” said Jessica’s dad, Mike Little. “At a soccer game I could watch [Jessica] from the side, but with this I’m part of it.”
All three girls say they want to continue racing.
“[The All-American Soap Box Derby] was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my entire life,” said Bailey. “It’s something I will remember for my entire life.”