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Lions Club Soap Box Derby has good racing again

They raced cars down the track Saturday at the Owensboro Lions Club Soap Box Derby at the Lions Club Track at Ben Hawes Park.

They also tried to stay in front of the rain that fell lightly off and on during the morning races.

Josh Meyer was the race director, and he was helping get cars from the track to the parking area. There were three divisions racing, but more racers are always welcome.

“We’ve got a bunch of cars up there that aren’t being used this year,” Meyer said. “If money’s an issue, we’ll figure that out. We’ve got plenty for people to use. They can be as committed to this as they want. They can just run local. When we have a rally race out here, it’s all weekend, we have four races. You can race one, can race two. It’s pretty flexible.”

In the Stock Division, Benson Tharp was first, Clayton Collins was second and Catlyn Tichenor was third.

In the Super Stock Division, Hayden McBride was first, Zach Gordon was second and Jayden Evans was third.

In the Masters Division, Lane Schlafke was first, Benji Edds was second and Addison Locher was third.

Tharp, McBride and Schlafke will represent Owensboro at the 86th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships in July.

“The whole goal when you get to Akron, if you finish in the top nine you get a big trophy, get up on stage. We’ve had multiple kids the last several years do that,” Josh Meyer said. “It’s crazy, if you look at the list of automatic qualifiers (who earn over 600 points), Owensboro has almost 10% on the list. If you include western Kentucky, with Bowling Green, Glasgow, Hopkinsville, Madisonville, sometimes we make up 15 to 20% of qualifiers. A lot of good racers are here.”

There were a few who were racing for the first time in the Lions Club event.

Jeremy Stephens watched his daughters, Olivia and Addison, make runs down the track and he was thrilled with the event.

“This is number one for us,” Jeremy said. “We’ve had a good time, we’ve won a couple of races. We never expected to do anything except have a good time. They’ve been liking it, so that’s a win for me.”

Stephens first got connected to Soap Box racing a year ago.

“I’m the director at Habitat for Humanity, last year we had a car in there, my construction manager’s boy was old enough to do it,” Jeremy said. “My daughter saw it sitting in the shop before we brought it out here, and she said ‘dad, I want to do that’ I said maybe next year. I kind of gauged her interest throughout the year, and she was raring to go. The older sister, who had no interest, saw her go down one time and said ‘I’m in.’

“After the first practice we were having a lot of fun with it.”

Stephens wanted to race as a kid but didn’t have the opportunity. That changed when his daughters started practicing.

“They did let me race, when they were practicing they put me in one of the bigger cars, and they both smoked me,” Jeremy said. “I was only halfway down the track when they finished, it was really fun.”

Habitat for Humanity was one of several sponsors of cars on Saturday.

“We couldn’t do it without all these sponsors,” Jeremy Stephens said. “All these names from the community, it’s a big deal.”