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Fleming’s provides gravity cars for students

6/7/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Photo: Maria Lindsay
COPLEY — Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar operating partner Bob Buck is helping local students feel the thrill of the hill.

Buck funded the purchase of four soap box derby car kits used in the third annual Gravity Racing Challenge at Derby Downs race track, sponsored by the International Soap Box Derby, May 19 for four area middle schools — Copley-Fairlawn, Revere, A.I. Root in Medina and Innes Community Learning Center in Akron. He also has committed to purchasing four derby cars for four other middle schools each year for the next two years.

The four gravity race cars, along with some of the student team members of each car, are shown at right, from left: Copley-Fairlawn; Innes, along with Buck and All-American Soap Box Derby President and CEO Joe Mazur; A.I. Root, which won the gravity race; and Revere.

Buck said that recent decisions by FirstEnergy and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., along with his wife, who is a teacher, and Corbin Bernsen’s movie “25 Hill” inspired him to get on board.

“This is a great way for us to give back to the community in a fun way that is representative of Akron and for education,” he added. “I hope people see this and get re-energized about the Derby.”

The gravity program invites teams of students to build a car while they learn about math, science and engineering. Mazur added that Akron Public Schools and Kent State University are working to develop an associated curriculum for the program.

According to Mazur, the first Gravity Racing Challenge in 2010 drew two teams, the second in 2011 had nine teams, and this year there were 66 cars, each with a team comprised of three to 10 middle school students.

“This is the future of the derby,” he said. “This will be the feeder system for the Soap Box Derby.”

The 75th All-American Soap Box Derby will take place July 21 at Derby Downs in South Akron.

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