Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
April 10, 2012 Issue
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Established 1891
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Contributed Photo

Morgan Van Keuren of Liberty, 11, hopes to compete at the Soap Box Derby national championships next year in Akron, Ohio.

‘Full speed ahead’ for Soap Box Derby

By Sharon Space-Bamberger
LIBERTY — Sullivan County’s inaugural Soap Box Derby will take place in Liberty on May 27, 2012.
Aspiring racers ages 7-17 sponsored by local businesses or their proud relatives are preparing to roll regulation soapbox vehicles down Liberty’s North Main Street from Charles Street to Noble in a gravity powered race. The winner of the race will be eligible to compete at the national championship in Akron, Ohio, against other “Local Champions.”
The first public meeting regarding the derby took place at the Liberty Firehouse earlier this month. Soap Box Derby President Carol Van Denberg of Hillside Greenhouses, used a power point presentation prepared by Race Director Jeremy Gorelick of Liberty ALIVE to explain the intricacies of the All-American Soapbox Derby (AASBD). Topics included how to sign up, cost of a soapbox car kit, how to sponsor a car and rules of the AASBD races.
AASBD promoters bill the derby as “The Greatest Amateur Racing Event in the World.” The winner of a local race is called a “Local Champion” and is eligible to compete in the AASBD World Championship in Akron, Ohio against other local Champions.
One entrant will be Morgan Van Keuren, 11, of Liberty, who raced in the Port Jervis Soap Box Derby this year, and placed 14th out of over a hundred racers. The young racer hopes to win the Sullivan County race and go to Akron. Morgan brought his car, “Mojo 1” to show the audience what the soapbox cars look like when decorated. His nametag bragged, “Hello, my name is Morgan and it’s my car.”
Boy Scout Cascio Fonseca, 10, of Liberty’s Troop 95 hopes to compete. “It depends upon his grades and his behavior,” his grandfather Paul Le Roy revealed.
Wes Illig who won the Port Jervis race in 1968, and competed in the AASBD in Akron, told the audience what it was when he raced. “In those days, you built your own car. You could buy the wheels but you built the body. My dad was an engineer and he helped me. He knew how to weigh it and he taught me how. We had a lot of fun in Akron, but I didn’t win.”
Local business owners were eager to become sponsors, their logos will appear on the cars and in all advertising. Liberty Fitness owner Cindy Fracasse signed up to sponsor two cars, A.J. Francesca will drive one and the second driver will be determined by lottery.
Etta Barbanti of Barbanti Real Estate decided to sponsor a car. When asked if he planned to become a sponsor, classic car collector Charlie Barbuti of Barbuti Furniture said, “You are asking me if I want to buy a car? When could I resist a car?”
Sponsors, volunteers, and Soapbox Derby drivers are needed for Sullivan County’s first derby.
To find out how to participate, e-mail or read Jeremy Gorelick’s bi-weekly Liberty Chamber of Commerce column in the Sullivan County Democrat.

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