Sonora Elementary School student Alexander Khachigian, 12, can now add a world championship in the 75th annual All-American Soap Box Derby to his resume.
Khachigian competed against 120 racers last week to win the world championship in the “stock” division, which includes soapbox cars that weigh a maximum of 200 pounds. He completed the 954-foot race course in exactly 29.53 seconds.
“This is a really big deal,” said Mike Quinn, one of two coordinators for the Northern California All-American Soap Box Derby. “We’ll have some kind of celebration when he gets back.”
More than 500 racers competed in three divisions at the weeklong event in Akron, Ohio, finishing up in Saturday. Khachigian emerged as one of six overall world champions after trouncing his peers in five races.
The result was a $5,000 scholarship and a gigantic trophy that’s almost as tall as Khachigian. Quinn said Khachigian can thank his exceptional driving skills.
Soap box cars have no motor and roll down a steep hill on gravity alone. Khachigian’s car reached speeds of 30 miles per hour in his final race.
He qualified for the annual All-American Soap Box Derby by winning the stock division in the Northern California Championship Race, which coincided with the Tuolumne Lumber Jubilee in Tuolumne.
“This is the Super Bowl of soap box (racing),” said Khachigian’s father, Aaron.
Khachigian’s older brother Ashton was a local champion in another division, but he was eliminated early from the All-American Soap Box Derby.
The brothers are relatively new to soap box racing, having discovered it by visiting a Northern California All-American Soap Box Derby booth at the Sonora Spring Festival about a year ago.
Since then, they’ve participated in races all over the state.
“Now we’re on this huge whirlwind,” said Khachigian’s mother, April Molitoris.
In fact, the brothers are so hooked on soap box cars that they’re participating in the National Derby Rallies in Bowling Green, Ky., this week.
“I just like seeing new places and meeting new kids from around the country,” Khachigian said.
“Plus I like to go fast,” he added. “It’s fun going down each hill.”