Derby runs its course

March 17, 2003 11:00 pm

By LENORE

RUTHERFORD

The third annual downtown Sonora Soapbox Derby has been called off because not enough racers signed up.

About 20 volunteers have joined city staff members to put the race together the past two years, but to make it work, a minimum of 35 racers must participate.

"If we had come close, we probably would have put it on," said Sheala Wilkinson, special programs coordinator for the city, "but we only had 26 entries, and from previous experience, we know some of those would have dropped out before the derby."

She said there were 98 entries in 2001, and only 58 ended up racing.

Last year, 60 entered, and only 35 raced.

The city had received 13 entries as of Thursday afternoon, just more than a third of the 35 needed to hold the event. That means 22 more drivers were needed to keep the event alive.

The city received 13 more entries by the 5 p.m. Friday deadline.

"We are all kind of disappointed that we didn't get enough parent participation to put it on this year," she said. It might be hard to get today's youth excited about cars with no motors, she said.

Youngsters ages 8-16 work for several months putting their derby cars together. The majority are built from kits, but some are made from scratch.

Drivers race down Stewart Street between Jackson and Linoberg streets.

Held in August the past two years, the race was scheduled for June 28 this time to avoid conflicts with youth soccer and family vacations and to avoid the late-summer heat, Wilkinson said.

The soapbox derby tradition of the 1930s and '40s was renewed in 2001 as part of the city's 150th birthday celebration.

Last week, Wilkinson said that if this year's derby didn't go, the city would likely not renew efforts next year.