“Always a Great Time”: Annual soapbox race with 64 racers | News, Sports, Jobs

MARK NANCE/Sun Gazette correspondent Jim Campbell, center, starts a race in the ‘Super Kids’ division in the Williamsport Soap Box Derby on Market Street on Saturday. The Super Kids Division brings together a special needs driver and a volunteer in two-seater cars.

The crowd on Market Street north of Little League Boulevard seemed unconcerned about potholes — literally or figuratively — at the 2022 Soap Box Derby.

“Things are going smoothly” Volunteer Jim Campbell said. “The weather cooperates”

John Hill, another volunteer who spent the day unloading cars and changing their tires, said the kids seemed to be having fun.

“I haven’t heard a cry yet” Hill joked.

Grace Stoltz, 9, and Alivia Lukowsky, 9, won the Stock and Superstock divisions, respectively.

MARK NANCE/Sun Gazette correspondent Grace Stoltz, 9, at right, holds her first place trophy after winning the Stock division of the Williamsport soap box derby on Market Street on Saturday. Seen with her from the front left are her family: Daisy, 7, Abe, 5, Bo, 3, and Grace Back are parents Morgan and John-Mark Stoltz of Montoursville.

Grace, who won the stock division, said the secret to her success was practicing on the hill in her driveway in Montoursville where her father would push her off.

“I’m really proud” Grace’s mother, Morgan Stoltz said. “She worked really hard.”

Grace, in her second year of participation, had fun building the car but she “Favorite part was racing” She said.

Audrey Mosier, 10, of Williamsport and Emmett Kinney-Polchin, 9, of Loyalsock Township agreed.

Emmett, who is racing for the first time, said he was having a lot of fun.

MARK NANCE/Sun Gazette correspondent Ethan Parke, front right, holds his runners-up trophy as he poses with his family after finishing second in the Stock division of the Williamsport Soap Box Derby on Market Street on Saturday . From left is his brother Jacob and Jacob Parke. Rear left are his parents Josh and Lori Parke and “Pit Chief” Dave Hess.

Audrey said that “go down the hill” — Market Street Hill between Washington and Little League boulevards — is the best part, while Raylan Spencer, 9, of Williamsport, said he enjoys crashing into the cones at the bottom of the hill. Raylan’s father, Eric Spencer, said he was confident Raylan would want to race again next year.

“We’ve always loved racing” said Eric. “It’s fun to do.”

Two former champions – 2015 winner James Doyle and 2016 winner Liam Doyle, both from Muncy – offered some advice for budding champions. James recommended keeping a positive attitude and keeping your head down and your eyes on the road, while Liam said racers should take care of their cars.

Eden Shirey, 7, of Linden, echoed James’ advice to keep a positive attitude.

“You don’t always have to win, you just have to have fun” Eden, who plans to return to racing next year, he said.

Marie Mertes and Holly King watched the race from their seats near First United Methodist Church and cheered on Jim King, who was racing in his sophomore year.

“It’s always a bang” said Mertes, Jim’s aunt.

“We like to cheer him on” Holly, Jim’s mother, said.

“It’s been a good day so far” Matt Doyle, father of Oliver Doyle, 9, a sophomore racer, said. “He’s bubbling over with excitement.”

“It is fun,” Oliver said. “I just like it. I just love it.”

Campbell, a longtime volunteer and organizer of the Soap Box Derby, said planners meet 10 months of the year. Campbell said recruiting children to participate and recruiting sponsors and volunteers to keep children’s participation free is the most important thing “main ingredients” the planning efforts of the organizers.

“We are so lucky” Campbell said and explained that the organizers are buying the children’s cars so there are no financial barriers to attending. “We’re really proud of that” that all children have the opportunity to race, he said.

The event had 52 cars in the first year after its revival. Now, more than a decade later, they have 64 cars in competition.

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