Soapbox derby racers do it for the fun of it |

Soapbox derby racers do it for the fun of it

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Nathaniel Darden, 7, right, and Fritz Filson, 7, crash near the finish line during their heat in the soapbox derby on Saturday. The derby is one of the many events Cub Scout pack 143 does annually to teach the boys responsibility and sharing.

As his machine was set up at the starting line, Nathaniel Darden meticulously checks his safety equipment. Helmet? Check. Seat belt? Check. Brakes? Check.

Ready for the signal, Nathaniel takes one last glance at the competition, Fritz Filson, in the next lane. The wind howls in the moment before the race begins and suddenly, they are off, barreling down the hill on Morgan Mill Road toward the finish line.

“All you do is let it go and go straight. Try not to turn if you want to go fast, but it’s hard to stop,” said Nathaniel as he prepared for the race.

Halfway through, it’s too close to call as Nathaniel and Fritz hurl toward the bottom, where their parents are waiting.

For the last four years, the members of Cub Scout pack 143 have returned to Morgan Mill Road, east of Carson City, to participate in a soapbox derby. Before Saturday’s race, each of the dens: webelos, bears, wolves and tigers paint their derby racers in preparation for the big event.

“We just do it for fun, we just make sure everybody gets to do a couple of runs,” said Pack Leader Ken Schneider.

The derby is one of the many events the pack does annually to teach the boys responsibility and sharing. In addition to the soapbox derby, the pack also does a pinewood derby and a boat race. The boys are now selling popcorn to finance a camping trip later this year and will also spend the night on the USS Hornet aircraft carrier.

But at the moment, the focus is on the battle between Nathaniel and Fritz. It is just past the halfway mark that their cars begin to careen toward each other. In less than a moment the realization sets in – they are going to collide.

In a flash, their wheels overlap and the machines come to a stop intertwined, just feet from the finish line.

“We crashed, we need paramedics,” screams Nathaniel. “We need a restart.”

Scout leaders arrive and check out the two boys, pronouncing them OK to return to the start line.

As they dismount and begin the walk back to the top, the pair of 7-year-olds smile, already preparing for their next shot in the driver’s seat.

– Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.