Williamsport Soap Box Derby Winners to Head to FirstEnergy Soap Box Derby World Championship | News, Sports, Jobs
Two young champions from the stock and superstock divisions of the Williamsport Soap Box Derby were filled with anticipation as they prepared to depart for the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship in Akron, Ohio.
Deegan Bragg, 9, son of Erica Roan, and Bella Mertes, 13, daughter of Chuck and Marie Mertes, shared the joy of driving in the world championship and posed Thursday night for photos in their cars at the South Williamsport derby workshop.
Bragg, the stock division champion, went undefeated in the Williamsport Soap Box Derby held on June 12.
Mertes drove in the superstock division, seizing the top spot after trying to reach that pinnacle of local driver success for the past four years.
“I’m happy to be in” Bragg said, before sitting down in the glittering car that was wrapped in a bright green color, his favorite color, which coincidentally matched his driving gear.
“The winning drivers were able to choose the design of their car” said Jim Campbell, organizer of the Williamsport Soap Box Derby.
Bragg’s grandfather Clyde Roan said his grandson trained on a slope at Trout Run. As for Grandpa’s advice, Roan told Deegan not to steer too hard and put on the brake.
His brother, Dayvon Boyd, was also present at the start.
Nicholas Catino of Master Contractors is Bragg’s sponsor in the stock car.
Members of the Mertes family said they made the five-hour trip in campers – all over 20.
Her car is blue and orange – her favorite colors, despite being a Phillies fan.
In Akron racing, there are two main divisions, a stock division, for riders aged 7-13 and a superstock division, for riders aged 9-18.
“There are a lot of activities planned for the competitors and their families. Campbell said.
According to the official All-American Soap Box Derby, upon arrival, each of the young champions receives their official racing clothes and signs the official champions banner which will be permanently hung in the Derby’s Hall of Fame and Museum.
The young champions are reunited with their racing cars, which will be shipped from their homes. Cars are carefully weighed and inspected to ensure they meet safety regulations.
The champions get their first glimpse of Derby Downs, a 989-foot race track designed specifically for racing.
Each of the competitors performs a test to familiarize themselves with the track.
Every day and night there are special entertainment programs scheduled for champions, families and friends, while Derby officials attend the meetings.
Before the world championships there are challenge races.
Race day activities kick off with a spectacular opening ceremony.
It’s competitive and fun, with each participant seen as a champion in their own right, but the top finishers winning trophies and recognition from All-American officials and their hometowns.
“We hope for good weather” Campbell said.
The local derby could not take place without the generosity of sponsors and volunteers.
Families leave on Monday for activities that run from Tuesday until the day of the championship race.