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SuperKids Classic racers heading to Derby Downs

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

Area racers competing in the National SuperKids Classic at Derby Downs July 25 are, from left, 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 — SuperKids racer David Wilt, of Springfield, said there is more to Soap Box Derby racing than just getting in the car and going down the hill. In fact, Wilt said he has crafted a technique that helped him to win the 2012 National SuperKids championship, as well as this year’s Greater Ohio Super Kids Classic.

“I really get down as far as I can in the car. If the air can’t get to me, it’s really good as far as the aerodynamics,” he said. “During the local race, the only time I lost a heat was when I sat up before the race was over.”

Wilt will get another chance to put his theory to the test when he takes part in the annual National SuperKids Classic at Derby Downs July 25 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the International Soap Box Derby, called the annual race “a great event.”

“These are dual-controlled cars for special needs kids who compete in their own races throughout the country,” he said. “They come to compete on that day — on Friday — down to the top six. Those top six will then compete on Saturday.”

Among those competing in the national event against Wilt are the following local competitors: Alex Bobick, of Twinsburg; David Kovacic, of Ravenna; and Dylan Whitted, of Newton Falls. The four racers finished first through fourth, respectively, at 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 SuperKids 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 SuperKids 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 SuperKids 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 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 that he hopes to see more and more people come to watch the race each year.

Linda Wilt said riding in the derby cars is a highlight for her son every year.

“It’s awesome for him. He has a blast every time he gets to go down the hill,” she said. “It’s something that brings excitement to all these kids. It’s fun and it’s something where they can meet kids and make new friends.”

Wilt said he has met “30 or more friends” during his time as a derby racer and competing in events such as the National SuperKids Classic and the Greater Ohio SuperKids Classic provides him with an opportunity to see those friends again.

“There are a lot of good friends out there and a lot of good people,” he said. “Most of the kids there are kind and they are all really caring. No one is there to judge you. Ultimately, we all share the same goal and we all have a lot of fun. It’s our little time away from the chaos of the world.”

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

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