Up & Coming Weekly

April 18, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 13 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 19 - 25, 2023 UCW 13 Kiwanis bring Soap Box Derby back to local racers after 50-year hiatus by KATHLEEN RAMSEY COVER When Warren Hahn propped a blue Soap Box Derby car in the back of his red pickup and strapped it down to drive around town, he never imagined whose attention would be grabbed by the children's gravity racer. Dining at Zorba's one Friday morning for breakfast, Hahn's advertising stunt garnered the attention of an elderly gentleman also dining at the restaurant. "Who owns the truck out there?" the older man asked those sitting in the restaurant. Hahn reluctantly admitted it was his car — assuming he had parked his truck wrong or some other small offense. e man asked Hahn to join him outside and go look at his truck. And that is how Warren Hahn met Billy Spears, the winner of the 1947 Cape Fear Soap Box Derby. "We got to talking," Hahn said. "He's a great gentleman. He won the first race after World War II." While Hahn didn't intend to discover the boy turned grand- father that won the race 76 years ago, he did gain a grand marshal for the Cape Fear area's first Soap Box Derby since 1973. e event, which takes place April 29 at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center, marks 50 years since the area hosted a Soap Box Derby race. Spears, as grand marshal, will join others at the festivities including another winner, Terry Faircloth, who won the derby in 1972. At this year's event, Fair- cloth's derby will be on display. "Everyone is used to pinewood derbies," Hahn, Race Director for Cape Fear Soap Box Derby, says. "Blow it up, make it 6 feet long and put your child in it." Hahn laughed a little about the gritty explanation of a Soap Box Derby but added that they don't have any motors so the racers only get up to speed around 20 miles per hour. e event, which is put on by the Kiwanis Club of Cape Fear, will have two types of racing categories: Stock for ages seven to 13 and Super Stock for ages nine to 18. Kiwanis Club of Cape Fear also began a donor program for derby kits to children in need. Two of the donor kits this year will be gifted to children of Gold Star families. "is is a program we wish to bring back every year … we are hoping to have 15 to 20 racers this year," Hahn said. e races will be free to the public and feature a double elimi- nation until four racers remain — winning prizes for 1st to 4th place. Indoor restrooms, a food vendor and free parking will all be avail- able on the day of the races. "e thing that is most interest- ing is from 1936 to 1971, the Soap Box Derby was for boys only," Hahn said. "In 1971, a girl here in Fayetteville built a derby." at little girl, Sandra Sosa, and her family ended up in legal ac- tion fighting for her right to com- pete. Eventually, they won in the courts and Soap Box Derby began to be both a boy and a girl's sport. "e courts said, 'A girl can- not get into a Soap Box Derby in a ladylike manner,'" Hahn said, chuckling. If Hahn and the Kiwanis Club have at least 10 par- ticipants, the win- ner from this year's competition will be eligible to go to the Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio, for the national Soap Box Derby. Bringing these events back to the area was a pitch Hahn made to the Kiwanis Club. "Pure stupidity, I volunteered," Hahn jokes about gaining his title as the Race Director. For Hahn, Soap Box Derby doesn't just have long term ties to Fayetteville but has personal significance for himself. He raced in derbies himself. "e way I got the money to build my derby is my grandfather said I had to go to Akron Savings bank and ask for the money to put my derby together," Hahn said. "I had to ask for $25 to build my derby." Children within the permitted age ranges are welcome to en- ter the race through the Kiwanis Club. e kits are around $900, according to Hahn, and can be reused and improved upon each year. e public is invited to the Cape Fear Soap Box Derby at the Char- lie Rose Agri-Expo Center on April 29 to cheer on racers of all ages. "It's going to be a lot of fun." KATHLEEN RAMSEY, Staff Writer. COMMENTS? editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Warren Hahn, pictured above, raced in the Soap Box Derby as a child. Hahn is the Race Director for the 2023 Cape Fear Soap Box Derby presented by the Kiwanis. It will be the first Soap Box Derby in the area in 50 years, a tradition Hahn and the Kiwanis want to make an annual event. (Photos courtesy of Warren Hahn) Warren Hahn, Race Director of the Cape Fear Soap Box Derby, has been promoting the event to build participation. e goal is 15 to 20 racers. ere are categories for Stock (ages seven to 13) and Super Stock (ages nine to 18).

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