By Sharon Space-Bamberger
LIBERTY This past Saturday, excited kids, parents and business sponsors gathered at the Gershowitz Bus Garage in Liberty to inspect the cardboard boxes holding parts of their newly delivered Soap Box Derby race cars.
The group awaited instructions from S.C. Soapbox Derby Race Director Carol VanDenberg of Hillside Greenhouse and David Williams, assistant regional director of the All-American Soap Box Derby, who gave a car clinic.
About 40 of the gravity powered cars will race down Liberty’s streets on May 27 during the inaugural Sullivan County Soapbox Derby. Local businesses are delighted because the race will draw people to the area.
Liberty High School students Josh De Carlo, Jerry Almodeva, Rodney Malloy, Esa Cano and Ray Malloy were picking up their car, sponsored by Advanced Health and Medical Group.
The teens discussed possible colors, design and aerodynamics. The car’s driver will be Ray Malloy. The rest of the team are “pit crew,” photographer and kibitzers. Ray said he is 17 years old, the maximum age for a Soapbox Derby racer, and weighs 127 lbs.
Williams is the expert in giving soapbox car construction clinics and helped the entrants through the steps. Williams pointed out that an instructional DVD came with their kits.
Williams suggested Dads drop the “We gotta win attitude.”
“Remember, we’re here for the kids,” Williams said. “This starts a journey with your kid they will remember for a lifetime.”
Sullivan County-based transportation companies Gershowitz Transportation and Rolling V Bus Corp. are sponsoring cars in the race. Ken Engle, head of Safety and Training for the two companies said,“ We held a lottery in the school districts we serve; and we bought one car for each of our five Sullivan County School districts. We also held a lottery for our drivers if they had kids who fit into one of the race categories.
“Phil Vallone, the President of Rolling V and Gershowitz, is always about giving back to his community, and we got a good response from our company and the districts,” Engle added.
Liberty driver Jennifer Crown was one of the lucky winners in the employee’s lottery. Her son, David Young, 9, was musing about painting his race car .
“School bus yellow, maybe make it look like one of our buses?” he wondered.
Charlie Barbuti showed Kymanni Dennis, 10, the Liberty fourth grader who will drive Barbuti Furniture’s car, how to use tools. The Liberty Town Supervisor observed, “Kymanni learned fast! It was obvious that he had never done it before, but he learned a lot about tools and building things. He has wonderful patience and stuck with the work until 3 p.m. I was tired out!”
Business owner Cindy Fracasse of Liberty Fitness is enthused about the S.C. Soapbox Derby “This is a very good thing for Liberty! I love kid things; it makes me feel like a kid again,” she said.
Other car sponsors include Cracolici's, First National Bank of Jeffersonville, Harris Funeral Home, Hillside Greenhouse, Poley Paving, Thalmann’s Service Center, Liberty PBA, Liberty Rotary and Roscoe Chamber of Commerce.
For further information call the Greater Liberty Chamber of Commerce at 292-9797 or firstname.lastname@example.org.