Hoping to build the perfect car for the annual Soap Box Derby, youngsters showed up at the Stark State College automotive center Saturday morning for a car-building clinic.
Nearly two dozen youngsters intent on building the proper race car came from 20 schools in Stark, Summit and southern Medina counties Saturday with their parents and teachers to the Stark State College Automotive Technology Center.
Combining their science, technology, engineering and math skills, they took part in the car-building clinic aimed at ensuring the cars “are safely assembled and ready to race” at the All-American Soap Box Derby Gravity Racing Challenge on May 18 at “The Hill” in Akron, said Mike Conway, program coordinator of Stark State’s automotive and transportation department.
“Here we have the science concepts, the technology concepts and standards, engineering moments and math being applied,” said Victor Stephan as he watched youngsters grab tools and begin building their derby cars. Stephan, who retired last year after 35 years with Lake Local Schools, works with the derby’s education division.
Allan Endres, 1999 Soap Box Derby world champion, and Megan Gongaware, 2010 world champion, were on hand along with Bruce Hunsicker, president of the Akron Area Soap Box Derby, and Larry Gallimore, soap box derby official for the All-American and Akron Area Soap Box Derby.
Hunsicker smiled as he watched one of the younger children work on the surfboard-shaped base of a derby car, getting assistance from derby officials, teachers and even parents.
“We have people here who can help set these cars up to make them competitive,” Hunsicker said.
Some of the cars under construction had raced just last year. Others were being newly built, Conway said.
“We’re making sure they’re safe and assembled properly,” he said.
So were 12-year-old Joshua Hariharan and his 10-year-old team members, Polito Paredes and Jaden Eckard. The Chapel Hill Christian School students took tools in hand to build the cars for what they said will be their first derby experience.
Hariharan, who said he enjoys building things, described the pulley system he was working on.
“This is much like a Piper J-3 Cub (aircraft) because it has a steel cable and, when you shift the stick, it’ll turn the cables,” he said.
Paredes said he is interested in engineering and, while he would like to build a bigger car some day, he is hoping for now that “our team wins the championship.”
Charlotte Ray, high school science teacher for the Summit Academy Community School in Parma, was accompanied by Tristan Ebersole, 16, as they built and modified three stock cars, one of which was raced last year by their Akron school.
Ebersole said he is more interested in the physics of the experience, but he planned to airbrush the shells of the cars with his uncle, Jim “Heartbeat” Elliot, who owns Heartbeat Airbrushing. Other team members are designing team T-shirts and banners and learning committee work, Ray said.
Page 2 of 2 - Brady Lutz, who will turn 7 next week, said he was looking forward to racing “by myself. I did the tandem race last year with my grandma.”
His father, Bobby Lutz, said the child’s grandmother, Sally Moore, rode with him.
When Hunsicker pointed out an error on a metal bar, Brady told his father, “We made a mistake.”
“That’s why we’re here,” his father said. “To get it right.”
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