CONNEAUT — The chance to spend quality time with children is a key component of the Conneaut Soap Box Derby.

The by-product of the cooperative efforts of parents and the children is the chance to earn a spot in the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron in late July.

Dave Shean has been involved in the Conneaut Soap Box Derby since 1986 and was on site Saturday to cheer for his granddaughter, Mikayla Thompson, who finished second in the Masters class.

He said he got involved with the Soap Box Derby and never stopped because it is a great way to have special family time. Shean said he had probably 25 members of the extended family at the top of Broad Street Hill on Saturday to view the festivities.

Shean's daughter Krista Shean won the Conneaut Soap Box Derby in the 1980s and competed against Travis Hayes.

Hayes spent Saturday afternoon encouraging his son Cayson, who was able to win the Masters division and earn the trip to Akron.

Cayson was emotional when explaining his happiness in winning the race for his great-grandfather John who passed away last year.

"It's really exciting, especially to honor my great grandfather, who died in December," he said.

He also credited his fathe, who spent hours and hours working on the car in their garage.

Jenna Wolfe, 19, a student at Ohio State University, won all three divisions of the event over the years. She will compete in Akron later this month in the All-Star race. 

Contestants may compete until they turn 20 years of age. Wolfe is winding down her career, but said she will always have the memories and the lessons learned about working hard and committing herself to a goal.

There was another benefit.

"I get to spend time with my dad," she said.

Terry Newhart, father of Kooper Newhart and a resident of Jefferson, said he enjoys the family component of the Soap Box Derby experience as well.

"It is just a way for my son and I to have a little one-on-one time," Terry Newhart said.

Tristan Hall earned a trip to Akron by winning the Stock division, and Bella Welton will represent Ashtabula County in the Superstock class.

Alexis Rhodes, former 2003 champion at Akron, coordinated heats for the event in Conneaut. She said there were 21 contestants that included eight Stock racers, nine Superstock competitors and four Masters class racers.

As many as 25 volunteers support the Conneaut Soap Box Derby completing tasks including heat selection, announcing the race and transporting the cars back to the top of the hill.

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