Keep calm and derby on

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Soapbox car race set for Sunday

It’s game on for Sunday’s annual Father’s Day Soap Box Derby. The event, now in its seventh outing since it was reinstated for the city’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2011, had some earlier struggles to get enough driver registrations up until a few weeks ago.

Organizer Cheryl Mackenzie said that the races usually roll with 75 participants but they only had two-dozen entries by the start of June. An extended deadline, however, sure helped to snowball things down over the threshold.

“We almost doubled,” she said with some relief. “It’s all my returning drivers. We could hit 46.”

While that figure equals the smallest field of competition in those seven years, approximately 25 per cent of the racers are new to the event. That’s good news to her. “It’s a good mix,” she said, adding that she has seen some “new and crazy designs.”

She suggested that, be they novice or a seasoned pro, it’s always anybody’s race.

“I’ve got racers that have been going five years that are still trying to figure out the formula to win. It’s fun. They add weight to their cart one year; they take it away the next. It’s fun to see the things they come up with.”

She has allowed last minute registrations of returning drivers only as late as Thursday evening during the last inspection event from 6 to 8 p.m. in the gymnasium at Leo Nickerson Elementary School at 10 Sycamore Dr. The entry fee is $40.

That means that drivers, parents, and spectators can look forward to all the low riding action that only homemade soapbox racecars rolling down a steep hill can offer.

As far as MacKenzie is concerned, the derby offers something deeper and more meaningful to St. Albert families.

“I’m about getting these kids out of the house and getting the parents engaged with them. I hear it every year. It’s a consistent message. Spending time with the kids outside, building and using their hands really is a component that I think would be missed if we didn’t do it. I used to do all these types of things when I was young. When this event came back for the 150th, I felt like it was an opportunity for us to bring something back outdoors that the kids could do and have fun with and engage as a family.”

MacKenzie also said that more volunteers would be appreciated. Contact her at 780-907-1034 or email stalbertsoapboxderby@gmail.com to enquire. The soapbox derby is a fundraiser for the Alberta Diabetes Foundation, the charity of choice for Rock’n August, which is this event’s co-sponsor.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.