CONNEAUT — The Welton family was just one of many spending time together and competing in the Soap Box Derby on Saturday afternoon at the top of Broad Street Hill that has hosted the event for 33 years.
Tracy Welton has been director of the event for 14 years but involved for 30. He doesn't appear to be going away any time soon as several generations of his family are deeply involved in the event.
"I've been in it for 30 years. I got my grandkids in it. I just love being with the kids," he said while preparing to pull the lever that sends the cars barreling down the hill.
While the competition is intense, veterans are willing to reach out a helping hand to fellow competitors.
Conneaut High School Football Coach Rocco Durban is new to the event, but said he was having a great time spending time with his two boys. He said a former competitor let him use several cars for his boys Wyant, 7, and Carrick, 9.
"It's a totally new thing for me. I'm a lot less competitive because I don't really know what I'm doing," he said. He said he always has his football players help stop the cars at the base of the hill and his children asked him if they could compete this year.
"It's been a great time to be with the kids. Normally they are following me to a football event and now I am helping them," he said.
Desmond Triplin and his 8-year-old son Dezarion, both of Ashtabula, spend time working on the cars throughout the year. "We kind of work on it all year round," Desmond said while waiting in line for Dezarion's next trip down the hill.
Desmond said they have been to a variety of sites to compete including New York, Cleveland and Akron. He said they probably spend two to three hours a week on the hobby.
"There is family everywhere," said Shane Welton who competed as a child and is now back helping others.
Rick Wolfe, of North Kingsville, said the preparation time was a little more challenging this year as his daughter Jenna, 14, moved to the masters class. "We were a little rushed this year. We had to build a masters car in two weeks," he said.
The Soap Box Derby includes three divisions which include stock (13 competitors), super stock (12 competitors) and masters with six entrants. Wolfe said the masters division allows for a lot more creativity and flexibility which requires more work.
John Hogan is a new member on the local Soap Box Derby committee that runs the event, but was sitting out the compeitition this year. "My son and daughter both won at stock and super stock so our next step is masters," he said.
Rachel Eldred is the announcer for the event and has to gear up her game each year. "It makes me nervous. I have to practice pronunciation the night before the race," she said.
Alexis Rhodes, a former world Soap Box Derby champion, keeps herself busy creating the heat sheets that make the event run smoothly.
Several competitors will be moving on to the Great American Soap Box Derby in Akron in August.