Crowds cheer gravity-fueled racers in Cedar City’s ‘Soap Box Challenge’

Two cars cross the finish line together during Cedar City Soap Box Challenge on Royal Hunte Drive, Cedar City, Utah, May 12, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Royal Hunte Drive was transformed into a race track for approximately four hours Saturday as two dozen soap box derby cars piloted by youngsters took turns racing each other down the hill.

Cars line up at starting line of Cedar City Soap Box Challenge on Royal Hunte Drive, Cedar City, Utah, May 12, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The cars were grouped into three different categories based on their type, and cars were pitted against each other two at a time. The vehicles are powered only by gravity, but drivers do have the ability to brake and steer using rudimentary mechanisms.

In one category, a boy named Wade emerged as the winner, with McCray taking second and Aliya placing third. In another bracket, Rhett was the winner, with Cooper as runner-up and Jace taking third. The third category had just two entrants, with the same car winning both head-to-head races. Organizers said the participants ranged in age from about 8 years old to midteen.

The vehicles ranged from simple to elaborate. Many were adorned with colorful paint, decals and other decorative items. Most of the vehicles are handmade using wood, metal and other materials. One was even made to look like a Cedar City Police patrol car, complete with lights and siren. Plans, kits and materials for making soap box derby cars are readily available online.

The event marked the Cedar City Soap Box Derby’s return to its original location after having moving to Main Street for a couple years, followed by another couple years when no derby was held, event organizer Byron Linford said. Organizers plan to keep it at Royal Hunte Drive in future years.

Police car entry lines up at starting line of Cedar City Soap Box Challenge on Royal Hunte Drive, Cedar City, Utah, May 12, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Cedar’s event is not an officially sanctioned soap box derby, Linford said, it’s just for fun and to promote the sport.

“The crowd was small, but the racing was great. The kids had a blast,” said event sponsor Curtis Maxwell, general manager of Rally Stop / Bruno’s Italian Deli, located near the finish line.

Participants paid a $15 entry fee to register, Maxwell said, but proceeds from the event will be given to the Perkins family of Enoch. Scott Perkins’ wife, Christie Perkins, died of cancer April 26, leaving behind her husband and their four young boys.

Several dozen onlookers watched the races, which ran from 10 a.m. until about 2 p.m. One family, who happened to be there from New Zealand, said they enjoy racing similar cars back in their homeland.

“It’s more about getting people together, getting in the garage, than the competition,” said the father, whose young daughter has been racing similar cars since the age of 4.

Volunteers served as starting officials, finish line judges and helped bring the cars back up to the starting line after each race. Cedar City Police Department volunteers also assisted with traffic control and street closures.

There was one minor mishap early in the event, as the young driver of a yellow car had his vehicle tip over after winning an early race. The boy appeared to be shaken up a bit and suffered some road rash but was otherwise reported to be OK. Although he didn’t compete any more on Saturday, he did continue to watch the rest of the races with his family.

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Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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