On the Soap Box
This past weekend a new annual event was inaugurated which could become a major draw for tourists and a fun family oriented contest for those of us lucky enough to live here all the time.
Saturday Dec. 15th saw the first Soap Box Derby races held on the island. Actually, these were Cubmobiles not Soap Box Derby racers, but the idea is much the same. Unlike the sleek aerodynamic low slung Derby racers I remember as a boy, these Cubmobiles are sturdy, roll-over resistant coaster cars more suited to the younger drivers. (Although the older boys and the adult older ‘kids’ could hardly wait to get their hands on the Cubmobiles for a test run down the hill last Saturday).
Basically, a Soap Box Derby is a race in which two homebuilt miniature cars coast side-by-side down a measured hill in timed elimination races to determine who has built the fastest car and who can drive the race most skillfully. More than just a race, the event teaches an array of skills and moral lessons to the boys and girls who compete. Honesty, fair play, sportsmanlike conduct, sharing, graceful winning and losing, and many other lessons are learned. The kids also learn use of tools, wood crafting, patience, conducting actions within a limited framework of rules, reading and following plans, time organization, deadlines and more while building and racing their machines.
The race held up on a Capital Hill back road was organized by local Cub Scout pack #913 and their leader Cub Master Matt Smith, a local attorney. Cub Scouts are boys 8-11 who band together under the leadership of volunteer adults who teach thru example and guidance the art of moral living and successful community life. They do it by allowing the boys leeway in learning skills and doing things that are naturally fun for young boys. Also involved in organizing this event and in building the cars ware members of Boy Scout troop #913, the version of scouting reserved for older boys aged 11-18. The Scout Master of Boy Scout troop #913 is Valrick Welch. Both of these Scout groups are sponsored by the local LDS Church.
Scouting is a worthy endeavor and other interested parties are involved in organizing additional troops of Cub and Boy Scouts. David Sablan, Al Cabael and Bob Jones, among others are actively promoting troop formation around the island. Hopefully inter-island camps and competitions will materialize over time. My thanks to all who work to encourage these Troops of young men and boys in their work and play.
The races held this past Saturday were between two teams of Cub Scouts. The T-Bone team (thankfully not a description of their driving prowess) was comprised of Ezra Conner, Salofi Welch, Carter Smith, Wallyson Wally, and JJ Brown took home the 1st place honors and the team trophies. Mere seconds behind in overall points were the Bumblebee Team with William Fong, Matthew Alonzo, Sterling Brown and Christian Rider at the wheel of their buzzing yellow Cubmobile. Congratulations to all who raced, all who prepared, all who organized, and special thanks to whoever baked the cookies!
I would like to see our island put together a full scale Soap Box Derby annual event that coincides with the races now run by the Scouts each December. I write this without having done my homework on just how a community goes about interacting with the Akron, Ohio based national Soap Box Derby organization, but a few phone calls and a net search should provide the necessary information. I would be happy to work with any interested parties to see this project get going. Please contact me if you have an interest.
We have some great hills that would make a safe but exciting venue for the annual races. With the addition of regulation, speedy Soap Box Derby race cars this event could become a major regional and international tourist draw. Where else could they go to see this kind of action anywhere within thousands of miles? The finals are held in July by the All American Soap Box Derby In Akron so we could hold qualifier heats and send our winner to Akron next year for the big final race, or perhaps the year after. They have been racing these cars and promoting healthy competition and strong moral values in the country’s youth for 70 years. The first national event was held in 1937. Saipan could be in on the action for the 71st or the 72nd National Finals! These races would be open to Scouts and all the other age qualified kids living in the CNMI. This could be an event that will help put us on the world’s tourist maps.
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Next week we’ll look at downtown Garapan revitalization. This week I’m saving space for a couple of photos from the Cubmobile race.
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Quote of the week: The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged. Ovid (43BC – 17AD)