Monday, August 20, 2007

Fear and Lightning at the Soap Box Derby [2005]

[Two years ago I helped out at the soap box derby my Rotary club sponsored. Maybe once in a while I'll post something I wrote in the past, just for kicks. This one was fun...]

For racer’s in Saturday’s Jackson Soap Box Derby, gravity - from the ramps to the rain - kept its grim hold on all that participated.

It seemed a simple enough assignment: I was to judge the cars and pit tents. Which one was decorated best? Which had the higher quality design and paint job? Which kid would I send home crying, finding fault in all creatures with wheels?

The assignment was given as a part of our Breakfast Rotary Club’s participation in the Jackson Soap Box Derby Association, an organization run by former national champs Jim Sunday and Randy Denig. We provided the funds and the brute strength to get this shin-dig off the ground, literally, and my role in the grand scheme of racing was a minor one. But I could use it to my advantage. I would delve into the very fiber of soap box racing, and expose this well-worn sport’s habits and traits.

It didn’t start out as easily as I had hoped. The forecast called for thunder and rain, and when I pulled into the Jackson County Airport - site of this year’s doomed Hot Air Jubilee - the menacing clouds were holding counsel. The size of the airport is easy to grasp from the road, but once you’re inside gripping agoraphobia sets in.

"Jesus," I thought, "I can’t even see to the other side."


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