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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex’s first Soapbox Derby races past expectations


by Sylene Argent

Months of planning and collaboration resulted in a successful first attempt at hosting a fun, family-friendly soapbox derby in Harrow, thanks to a unique partnership between the Town of Essex, the Rotary Club of Harrow, and the Homebuilt Soapbox Racing Association.

A portion of King Street in Harrow was shut down to traffic for the event, which had 17 youths race their homemade cars down the steep ramp, all reaching for the quickest time in the four divisions available.

The young competitors took part in two qualifying races before the competition officially kicked-off. The average of those two initial runs was used to determine in what division each racer would compete.

The Homebuilt Soapbox Racing Association was pleased to add Harrow to its racing circuit this summer. It also hosts events in Chatham, Wallaceburg, Port Lambton, and other locations.

With the 17 competitors on Sunday, Harrow’s race attracted more than the average racers for the Homebuilt Soapbox Racing Association. Organizers were touting the event as having a great turnout and being one of success.

Hosting the races is all about the kids, Donald Mackenzie said, who organized the event with the Homebuilt Soapbox Racing Association. “It is about getting them out, working on teamwork and building skills.”

Due to the sponsorship of Harrow’s race day, prizes and trophies were available to the young participants and they were able to bring the ramp out for the event.

“This is exactly what we wanted,” Jake Morassut said, who is the Director of Community Services for the Town of Essex, as he looked down King Street. With racers flying down the ramp, and other youths taking advantage of activities the Town of Essex and Essex Fire & Rescue hosted onsite, he was pleased with the event outcome. Especially for the first attempt to host it locally.

He thanked the Rotary Club of Harrow and the Homebuilt Soapbox Racing Association for collaborating with the Town of Essex to host the event, which certainly gave many youths something fun to do for an afternoon, even if they didn’t get a chance to race this year.

Morassut hoped the event would help draw people to the downtown of Harrow, after its streetscape was completed just last year, to support its businesses. He hopes to host the event next year, and perhaps maybe one in Essex Centre after its streetscape has been completed.

Mackenzie added that anyone with a soapbox car they found in storage and is not in use can donate them to the Homebuilt Soapbox Racing Association. The club often brings along cars to its races to allow youths who do not have one a chance to get involved and get interested in preparing for the next race.

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