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Sports

SuperKids Classic racers heading to Derby Downs

7/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Area racers competing in the National SuperKids Classic at Derby Downs July 25 are David Wilt, of Springfield; Dylan Whitted, of Newton Falls; Alex Bobick, of Twinsburg; and David Kovacic, of Ravenna.
Photo courtesy of Cindee Case
SOUTH AKRON — On July 25 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the annual National SuperKids Classic will take place at Derby Downs.

“It’s just a great event,” said Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the International Soap Box Derby. “These are dual-controlled cars for special needs kids who compete in their own races throughout the country. They come to compete on that day — on Friday — down to the top six. Those top six will then compete on Saturday” during the All-American Soap Box Derby.

Among those competing in the national event are four local competitors: David Wilt, of Springfield, who also was the 2012 National Super Kids champion; Alex Bobick, of Twinsburg; David Kovacic, of Ravenna; and Dylan Whitted, of Newton Falls.

Those four racers finished first through fourth, respectively, in the Greater Ohio SuperKids Classic last month to earn the chance to compete in the national event.

“Typically, the top three racers go, but this year, we actually had four of our racers go,” said Michael Namsick, president of the Greater Ohio SuperKids Classic. “There were the three that finished first, second and third in our races, but we also had the past national champion who automatically got a bid to go back. David Wilt is a past champion and he also ended up being the champion of our race this year. Since he already had an automatic bid, we were able to send our fourth-place winner to nationals.”

According to Namsick, Wilt has made a name for himself on the Super Kids derby circuit.

“David has won our race twice and then went to nationals and won there, too,” he said. “David’s quite the racer.”

Namsick said the Greater Ohio Super Kids Classic is a fun event for children who are not able to compete in the All-American Soap Box Derby.

“This is a Soap Box Derby-style race for children that have either mental or physical disabilities,” he said. “We use cars from the Soap Box Derby and our cars are tandem cars, so our kids get the thrill of riding down the hill. It is all about the pure thrill of the hill for these kids.”

Between 30 and 50 racers take part in the Greater Ohio SuperKids Classic each year, Namsick said, with 35 racers competing in this year’s event.

“Our kids are between the ages of 7 and 18,” he said. “They have to be ineligible to race in the Soap Box Derby, for whatever reason. If they cannot race in the Soap Box, they can race in ours. And we are located throughout the country with many different chapters. The kids from those races are all invited to Akron to race in the National SuperKids race.”

There is no cost for the participants of the Greater Ohio Super Kids Classic, Namsick said.

“The nice part, which separates us from the classic Soap Box Derby, is that it doesn’t cost our families anything. There is zero cost,” he said. “We provide the cars and the helmets. We provide everything they need to be able to race. We also pay to send them to nationals. So our program is at no financial liability to our families. It makes it a little more special for us that we’re able to do that. It is totally funded by volunteers and by donations from corporations and clubs throughout the Northeast Ohio area.”

Namsick said the race is always open to spectators, adding he hopes to see more and more people come to watch the race each year.

“Our race always takes place on the first Saturday in June. It’s a super race and I would love to have more people come out to take a look at it,” he said. “The families are always supportive and they bring people to the hill, but we are always looking to find ways to build the crowd. The kids love to hear the cheers as they go down the hill. All you have to do is be at a race one time and watch the kids — watch their faces — and you’ll be hooked. You will be back year after year after year. It is one of the purest experiences I’ve ever had.”

For those interested in signing up a child for next year’s Greater Ohio SuperKids Classic, go to www.superkidsohio.org for more information.

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