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Sisters seek speed

June 28, 2013

Madison Kennedy of Wapakoneta prepares to race during the Soap Box Derby in Lima. Madison and her sister, Taylor McCullough, both placed high in the stock division at the race.

Staff Writer
While thousands of children participate in Soap Box derbies every year, two racers in particular have made it a family affair.
Sisters Madison Kennedy and Taylor McCullough both developed a love for soap box derby racing at a young age, and both have showed they can excel in the competition.
Both recently participated in the Lima Soap Box Derby held June 22, with 10-year-old Taylor placing third and 11-year-old Madison placing sixth.
“Me and my sister have a lot of fun doing it together,” Taylor said. “I was really proud when I got third and I was really happy when my sister got sixth place.
A total of 42 racers participated in the Lima race, with racers going competing one-on-one in a double elimination process.
A race is typically an all day event, beginning in the morning and stretching over 10 to 12 hours before a winner is declared.
“It’s an all-day event,” said Cheryl McCullough, mother of the two sisters. “You have to pack lunches, sun screen, whatever you are going to need throughout the day.”
Cheryl McCullough shared she may have to consider doubling the size of her travel gear shortly.
Two other sisters are waiting in the wings as 9-year-old Abigail McCullough will be racing in 2014 and 6-year-old Brooklyn Kennedy will be racing in 2015.
In addition, an 11-year-old cousin Jada Stefanko currently races in the super stock division and another, 5-year-old Laiken Eith will be eligible to race in 2015.
Soap box derby racing first became noticed in 1914, when Charlie Chaplin starred in the motion picture Kid Auto Races at Venice.
A Dayton Daily News photographer put together a race in 1933. There was so much interest, that the following year the racing form spread across the nation.
The first All-American race was held in 1934. It was moved to Akron in 1935 because of its hilly terrain and since has been held there every year.
Now, thousands of young racers participate in local races in an effort to qualify for the national race in Akron.
The girls first became interested in soap box derby when their grandfather, James Jenner, took them to the Lima race. Jenner had also competed when he was a youngster, and the girls became immediately hooked.
“They we’re in awe the first time the saw it,” Cheryl McCullough said.
In the stock division, racers by a car kit for approximately $500 and put the car together from scratch with the instructions. The division is the beginning division and weight with car and rider cannot exceed 200 pounds.
The super stock division allows the children to expand their knowledge and build a more advanced model. In the masters division, racers get more of a chance to use their creativity.
They can purchase a Scottie Masters Kit with a fiberglass body. The Soap Box Derby website lists the events goals as teaching youngsters basic skills of workmanship, the spirit of competition, and perseverance to continue a project once it has begun.
Racers can customize the looks of their cars, and many can even be seen with sponsor emblems on them.
Madison likes horses and has pin striping on her vehicle with the outline of a horse head. She also has the number 78 on her car, in memory of another grandfather, James Briscoe. Briscoe had the same number as a driver at the Lima Speedway.
Taylor has a dolphin on her vehicle and the number 12, chosen because her birthday is Aug. 12.
Taylor said her and her sister had only matched up once, in the 2012 race, one on one. While Taylor place higher than her sister this past Saturday, she admitted to losing the battle with her sister in a face-off between the two last year.

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