Clovis Soap Box Derby scheduled for Saturday

File photo The Clovis Soap Box Derby is scheduled for Saturday. Drivers are competing for a chance to race in the national championship in Akron, Ohio.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Saturday is race day, as 230-pound combos of car and racer battle for a trip to Akron, Ohio.

The block of Sycamore Street intersecting with 14th Street will be closed most of Saturday for the 10 a.m. Clovis Soap Box Derby.

Event director Larry Erwin expects about 15 racers will compete in the seventh annual event.

Erwin, a member of the Clovis Rotary Club, said the derby came about because the club wanted a family event that wasn’t a one-shot deal.

“The Rotary Club was looking for something we could sponsor on a regular basis,” Erwin said. “I had been in soap box derby when I was 14. I had won a local in Kentucky. They thought it was a good idea.”

And now, Erwin and others spend the days leading up to the race customizing their cars, built from a kit and usually sponsored by area businesses.

Erwin joked that the cars take about two to four hours to assemble — or six hours if you read the included instructions.

The benefit for the kids is the chance to go to the national championship in Akron.

Andrew Collings, 11, hopes he can be the third member of his family to make it to the finals.

His father, Rick Collings, said brothers Eric and Alex won in 2004 and 2007, respectively, and the Akron experiences are great for families.

“It’s just been a great time for them,” Rick Collings said. “They’ll always remember going down the hill at Akron, and all the activities that went on.”

Andrew Collings, who will be a sixth-grader at Mesa Elementary in the fall, said his car is purple with a dark grey stripe to match the Clovis High colors.

The biggest difference between Akron and Clovis, Erwin said, is the hill is a little steeper in Akron, and drivers get up to speeds of 30 mph there.

Drivers on Sycamore Street aren’t likely to get faster than 18 mph.

Racers show up at 5 p.m. Friday for weigh-in and a track run for first-time racers.

All car-driver combos must be 230 pounds, with weights added to reach that total.

Drivers must be at least 10 years old on race day. They can be as old as 19 as of Aug. 1, but Erwin said most drivers get too big for the cars well before reaching that age anyway.