By Evan Caldwell | Monday, June 17, 2019
CAMANO ISLAND — Addison Inman sprang out of her soap box derby car, twirled, cartwheeled and fist-pumped the sunset-tinged sky.
The 12-year-old Stanwood Middle School student won the super stock division Saturday at the 12th annual Windermere Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby at Arrowhead Ranch on Camano Island — where she took the stock division title a year ago.
Inman and stock division winner Bella Siddle earned trips to Akron, Ohio, in July to compete in the All-American World Championship Soap Box Derby. However, both had already won a soap box derby event in May in Oregon to secure trips to Akron.
So what’s their secret?
“My secrets shall not be revealed,” Inman said coyly. “Basically, stay straight, stay low and have fun.”
“Get down low and stay straight,” the 8-year-old Utsalady Elementary student said. “But the best part is going fast.”
The record 93 racers had plenty of speed this year thanks to a new starting ramp about 4 feet higher than last year. Some racers were reaching 30 mph before afternoon headwinds picked up.
Siddle claimed the victory by edging first-time racer Dawson McDaniel by 0.007 seconds in the final race.
“It’s fast and it’s fun,” McDaniel said. “(2017 stock division champion) Braddock (Johnson) is in my class and he gave me tips.”
The local soap box derby event incorporates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, while encouraging active mentorship and family collaboration throughout the derby car-building process. Most racers and family members have spent the past few weeks attending driving and building clinics in addition to working on their cars, many of which are paid for by local businesses.
In the stock division, the combined weight of the stock car, wheels and driver cannot exceed 200 pounds. For the super stock division, the combined weight cannot exceed 240 pounds. Stock division drivers must be ages 7-13; super stock drivers must be ages 9-17. The top finisher in each division wins a trip to the annual All-American Soap Box Derby Race Week, taking place July 14-20.
At the All-American race, competitors vie each year for the title of world champion and more than $36,000 in college scholarships.
Camano Island’s Ronan Johnson also will race in Akron in the master’s division after a win at the 24th annual Best-in-the-West Rally over Memorial Day weekend in Salem, Oregon. The Camano event does not have master’s division races.
About 2,000 to 2,500 spectators came and went throughout the 10-hour race day, snapping photos, cheering wildly during the about 440 races and relaxing in the sun-soaked grass in the state’s only soap box derby race — and the largest west of the Mississippi River.
Later this summer, Arrowhead Ranch will host the Summer Classic Rally Races, a stop on the soap box rally circuit where racers can advance to Akron by accumulating points in a series of races.
“That’s what’s really fun about the derby,” Inman said. “It’s always fun to go around the state or area and meet new people, become friends and race.”
1st: Bella Siddle
2nd: Dawson McDaniel
3rd: Adrina Kuehlwein
4th: Graham Gilday
5th: Hannah Olsen
6th: Abigail Evans
7th: Sawyer Sustachek
8th: Roy Bailey
Super Stock division
1st: Addison Inman
2nd: Avery Rochon
3rd: Braddock Johnson
4th: Ethan Hayes
5th: Lily Swanson
6th: Riley Buell
7th: Ryker Belles
8th: Ellie MacDonald
Harry Brown Sportsmanship Award: Leo Saylor
Pat Richardson Best in Show Stock: Emily Shaw
Pat Richardson Best in Show Super Stock: Kuper Stoner