BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. - The weather was warm and storm clouds were on the horizon for the 10th Running of the City of Firsts Soap Box Derby last Saturday. So 34 racers – three more than a year ago – strapped on their helmets and watched two new champions crowned top drivers of the Main Street Drags. In the Super Stock Division, Rachel Carden (No. 55 Solidarity Community Federal Credit Union) took home top honors, while Ansen Russell (No. 3 Coca-Cola) took top honors in the Stock Division. Both drivers hail from Galveston.
Organized locally by the Kiwanis Club of Kokomo and title sponsored by Ellers Mortuary, the City of Firsts race is a national qualifier for the All-American Soap Box Derby, which is run in Akron, Ohio. Dubbed “The Greatest Amateur Racing Event in the World,” the 76th Annual All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship will be held July 27. Both Kokomo winners have qualified to participate in the prestigious event.
Carden, an 11 year-old Galveston Elementary student, won the Super Stock Division by coasting his Derby car down the 900-foot “Main Street Dragstrip” straight and narrow. Second place went to Micah Gremelspacher (No. 10 Crume-Evans Insurance) and third place was grabbed by Matthew Edison (No. 31 Edison Motorsports, San Lum Academy, Courty Cares). Carden was declared the champion after Gremelspacher was disqualified in the championship round for early breaking, which resulted in the timing system being severely damaged.
In Stock, 7 year-old Russell, a Thompson Elementary first grader, steered his No. 3 car to the winners circle and a trip to Akron after edging Samantha Golding (No. 40 2B Personalized, Mom and Dad, Nan and Pap) by less than one-tenth of a second in the finals. Third place went to Elizabeth Jarrell, driving the No. 92 Orange Leaf car.