Local Kiwanis, Sertoma sponsor Soap Box Derby

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Glenn Scott has been a part of the All-American Soap Box Derby tradition off and on since his son competed in the annual gravity races the late 1960s. Since 2003, that participation has become a regular part of his year.

Kiwanis and Sertoma organizations across the country have been sponsoring derbies for decades but the Monument Hill Kiwanis are unique in that they were formerly the Monument Hill Sertoma Club. Scott started working with the local Soap Box Derby in 2003 when the Pikes Peak International Raceway bought 10 derby cars and had an open race at the raceway.

“I talked to Rob Johnson (at the raceway) and the next year we had a sanctioned race and sent the winner to the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio,” Scott said. “Since then we’ve expanded to include three divisions: stock, super-stock and masters’. The winner in each division gets a stipend to go to Akron and we ship the car.”

The difference between the three divisions is the maximum weight of the car and the materials used to make it. When the Soap Box Derby started in 1934 the cars were handmade using materials available.

“When my son and I did it, we went to Chevrolet and picked up four wheels and a couple of axles,” Scott said. “Then we constructed something that would fit. Some kids are better at building cars than others, which gave them a distinct advantage, so now all the cars are made with standardized kits that level the playing field.”

The kits, wheels and shipping, can cost up to $650 for a stock or super-stock car and up to $750 for a masters’ car. Scott helps kids find sponsors to help defray some of the costs.

“Our Kiwanis Club helps kids whose families are running on empty,” Scott said. “We also have used cars. The kids dismantle them and reconstruct them to qualify as having made their own cars. Kids, especially the younger ones, can get help from an adult but they have to do most of the work themselves.”

The race is open to girls and boys ages 7-17.

“About 40 percent of our racers are girls,” Scott said. “They’re sometimes more competitive than the boys. They’re pretty tough.”

The Soap Box Derby teaches kids discipline and to stay with a project to the finish, Scott said, adding, “It also teaches craftsmanship, using tools and reading plans; and kids get a feel for `real competition’ and learn good sportsmanship. It’s a great bonding experience; the derby was a highlight for me and my son.”

The local race involves as many as 120 volunteers including members of high-school Key Clubs and DeMolay Clubs, youth organizations associated with the Masons.

Kids who want to race in this year’s local race on June 9 must register by May 18. For more information, call Scott at 719-488-8808 or visit www.ppsbd.com for registration forms, eligibility requirements and rules.