What do a soapbox, narcolepsy have in common? Cedar City Soap Box Challenge; STGnews Photo Gallery

Third Annual Cedar City Soap Box Challenge in Downtown Main Street, Cedar City, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, St. George News.

CEDAR CITY –Downtown Main Street in Cedar City was closed Saturday afternoon and turned into a racetrack for the third annual Soap Box Challenge, qualifying one competitor for world championship and providing another an apt soapbox to deliver an important message about the autoimmune disease narcolepsy.

Cedar City’s growing attraction

The event attracted approximately 80 competitors, the most the event has ever seen.

Blake Barrett, winner of the third annual Soap Box Challenge, Downtown Main Street, Cedar City, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, St. George News.
Blake Barrett, winner of the third annual Soap Box Challenge, Downtown Main Street, Cedar City, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, St. George News.

Not only did the event attract local racers, but competitors also traveled from northern Utah and Las Vegas.

“We think it has potential to be a regional event,” Cedar City Events Coordinator Byron Linford said, “It’s starting to be that, we’re starting to pull people from outside the area.”

Downtown businesses also bring an atmosphere and a fun environment to the event.

“The merchants are working with us because they can see the potential down the road, “ Linford said, “I think they see that this could be a really good thing.”

The event was initially created to provide another avenue of competition for young people in Cedar City.

“Maybe there are kids that don’t excel at athletics of music or whatever, and it’s an opportunity for them to do something,” Linford said, “they can get into racing, and it’s fun.”

Great people are behind the event to make it possible every year, Linford said.

“It’s all volunteers, obviously nobody gets paid,” he said, “A lot of the volunteers don’t even have kids, they just want to do this cool thing.”

The race featured a Super Stock Sanctioned category and home-built categories.

Homebuilt categories gave people the opportunity of any age to build soapbox derby cars out of any material.

Winning the main event

Alex Henkel with his son Vand'n Henkel, Cedar City, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, St. George News.
Alex Henkel with his son Vand’n Henkel, Cedar City, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, St. George News.

The main event was the Super Stock Sanctioned category. The winner of the sanctioned category, Blake Barrett – representing local coffee shop, The Grind – qualified to compete in Akron, Ohio at the First Energy All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship in July.

This will not be Barrett’s first trip to the world championship seeing as he defended his title from last year.

The Street Sleeper

Although fast cars and good driving provided great entertainment, one car caught everyone’s eye – not because of its speed, but because of its message.

Cedar City local Vand’n Henkel, 6, was diagnosed with narcolepsy in 2013. His family built The Street Sleeper in his honor and to raise awareness of the autoimmune disease.

“He got diagnosed right before the race last year, we just didn’t have time to get (a soapbox derby car) together,” Alex Henkel, Vand’n’s dad said, “so this year we pulled it together.”

The bed-shaped derby car cruised down Main Street while informing spectators of the effects of narcolepsy on the back of the car.

“One in 2,000 people have narcolepsy, its highly misdiagnosed, and highly misunderstood,” Alex Henkel said, “so we’re just trying to raise awareness.”

The Street Sleeper, Cedar City, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, St. George News.
The Street Sleeper, Cedar City, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, St. George News.

Competitors cannot race until the age of 8; seeing that Vand’n is only 6 years old, his 12-year-old sister raced in his place.

“It felt good to support him and raise narcolepsy awareness,” Denim Henkel said.

The Henkel family is raising awareness one race at a time. Learn more about narcolepsy through Vand’n’s narcoleptic life.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

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Email: krobison@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

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