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Soap Box Derby Registration to begin
Jonathan Barlow of King George County gets ready for last year's Free Lance-Star Classic, the annual Rappahannock Regional Soap Box Derby. Registration forms for this year's event are now available at the Dorothy Hart Community Center.
FILE/ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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By COLLETTE CAPRARA
For THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Registration forms for the 10th annual Rappahannock Regional Soap Box Derby, The Free Lance-Star Classic, are now available at the Dorothy Hart Community Center in Fredericksburg. Registration will officially begin Jan. 17, and the race is scheduled to take place June 17.
Preparations for the big day will include a "lane and heat drawing" family supper (free for drivers and their families), where racers' positions will be designated. Drivers' meetings also will be held, where youths will be briefed on everything from what to wear on race day to how to find their cars when race time arrives.
For the past three years, the derby coordinated by Fredericksburg's Department of Parks and Recreation has been the largest in the country, as nearly 200 young people race down a 900-foot section of William Street, beginning at its intersection with Sunken Road.
"It is a wonderful old-fashioned, hometown event," said Jane Shelhorse, assistant director of Parks and Recreation. "Businesses, families and organizations all come together to create this event for the kids. Sometimes years after a race, I will meet a young person who had participated who'll say, 'Hey, you're the derby lady! That was so much fun.'"
The derby was started in 1934, said race director Alvin Staples.
"I know a number of older men who had raced in the derby in the '60s and '50s, and even the '40s, and they will never forget that experience," he said. "They can tell you every detail of what happened on their race day as if it were yesterday."
The Soap Box Derby was held in Fredericksburg for the first time in 1951, but had to be halted in 1972 due to lack of funding.
Cars must meet specifications of the official 2006 rule book and may be one of three different models: stock cars (typically for drivers ages 9 to 13), super stock cars and masters cars (for drivers ages 10 to 17). The cars are constructed by their young drivers (often with the help of an adult) from kits that can be purchased from the All-American Soap Box Derby headquarters in Akron, Ohio (aasbd.com).
Numerous area businesses and organizations have purchased cars and sponsored young drivers. The number of sponsorships grows each year in response to requests from prospective racers.