Students make soapbox racers for derby

Community race to be held May 8 at Del Oro
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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What do you get when you mix kids, tools, wood and wheels? A soapbox derby car, of course. Several Loomis Grammar School eighth-graders are spending their lunch recess time building four of the gravity-powered kid-mobiles that have thrilled generations of youth. The boys plan to finish their cars in the next few weeks and will join other community members to compete in the first annual Loomis Soapbox Derby Race on Saturday, May 8, at Del Oro High School. The event is the brainchild of Rick Judd, Loomis principal, and Dave Albright, a parent volunteer. Judd said he was looking for an activity for some of the boys who are not inclined to play sports during recess. The parent teacher club purchased four soapbox derby car kits online and Albright took his tools, including a skill saw, saber saw, drill and sander, to school. Then, he spent two weeks in January teaching the boys how to safely use the tools. Once trained, the boys, all wearing safety glasses, were off and building. Albright is at Loomis School three afternoons per week, depending on weather, to assist and supervise pairs of boys as they draw, cut, saw, sand and screw the materials together. After all of that hard work, the boys will end up with four completed cars that will be used at school for real-life experiments in gravity and physics before competing in the May race. Students Jake Fortner and Hunter Ralph work together constructing what they hope will be a red Ferrari. Jordan Walker and his teammate, Mark Taylor, are completing a yellow banana-mobile. Business partners Rob Johnson and Jerry Cannon, owners of Trailhead Coffee in Penryn, said they plan to build and enter a car in the derby. “We’ll incorporate a cycling theme into our entry,” said Johnson, who will design the car. Johnson said his wife, Kimberly, grew up in Muncie, Ind. in the 1970s where soapbox derby racing was big. Kimberly Johnson said, “We had a farm and we’d use old wood to make the car. There was a big hill at the park and on Saturdays families would come and we’d race. “Our cars were very homemade. We’d decorate them. Ours was probably the worst, but it was all about a fun day for families.” The Johnsons said they plan to take Logan, their 11-year-old son, to the race and he will get to drive the car. However, Kimberly said, unlike the soapbox racers of her childhood her son will be wearing a helmet. For more information, call Albright at 652-2181 or go to Loomis Soapbox Derby Race When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 8 Where: Del Oro High School, Boyington Road entrance Register: Information: Dave Albright, 652-2181