Drivers were split into three divisions based on their ages and designs. The Stock Division is made up of racers from 7-13 years old and racers from 9-18 years old make up the Super Stock Division. The Masters Division with 10-20 year olds was not contested this year.
The event is a double-elimination tournament. Each lap, two drivers drive a few heats. Between each race, the drivers must switch wheels and tracks, and the driver with the best time advances to the next round.
Colorado Springs racer Daxton Kimsey was one of the veterans competing this year. The 9 year old from Freedom Elementary has competed in three races and he knows what it takes to compete at a high level once Derby day arrives. He entered Sunday’s race with the same car his brother has raced for the past five years.
“You have to make sure your brake moves,” Kimsey said. “You have to make sure your controls work well. You have to make sure the weight is the right amount you need.”
This year’s first derby was for Hannah Perez, who came from Loveland to make her debut. The 11-year-old, who attends St. John the Evangelist School, said her interest in the Derby started in a very different discipline.
“I’ve ridden go-karts before, so that inspired me with that experience,” said Perez.
Her mother, Adriane, grew up in northern Ohio, where the Akron national derby is held every year. She contacted race officials for the Pikes Peak Soap Box Derby and arranged for a loaner car for the race. The family assembled the car after receiving the parts, and Adriane said her daughter learned a lot from the experience.
“It taught her a little bit about the dynamics of racing and the steering wheel. She’s an 11-year-old and she’s not driving yet, so that’s almost her first car,” Perez said.
Madison Kersten got involved in the Soap Box Derby through a club at her school, the Connect Charter School in Pueblo. The 15-year-old’s car was covered in math equations and had a wolf on its nose. She designed the livery as a tribute to Connect.
“It’s a school-driven car and there’s a window in our school with a lot of math symbols and stuff, so I got my inspiration from that. Our mascot is a wolf,” said Kersten.
Kersten hopes the Soap Box Derby will help her prepare for working in mechanics.
The Stock Division was somewhat of a family affair as Centennial’s Ethan Elstun emerged victorious on a field that included his more experienced brothers, Carson and Blake. Ethan summed up the experience in one word: “Amazing.”
“I liked going down the hill. It’s really bumpy. But some parts of the track are smooth and it’s fast,” said Ethan.
Colorado Springs’ Alex Fields emerged victorious in the Super Stock Division. He needed three heats into the championship round to win the title over Castle Rock’s Aria Immormino. The rookie racer said his last races have been nerve-wracking, but he was happy with the win.
“It’s great,” Fields said. “My father and I had been working on this for a while. So it just feels right.”
Elstun and Fields now move on to the All American Soap Box Derby, which kicks off on July 17. Both will aim to become the second Coloradan to win nationally in the race’s 89-year history. Parker’s Allison Pankoff won the Masters Division in 2018.