Racing enthusiasts look for tips at clinic
By PAUL WHEATLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Dan Medvec knows Soap Box Derby racing.
The Boardman resident won the 1971 Youngstown race when it ran down Midlothian Boulevard.
Now he's passing that knowledge on to his 13-year-old niece Lindsay Kuebler, who plans to make race for the first time in this summer's Greater Youngstown SoapBox Derby, June 16-17.
But technology has revolutionized soap box racing from the days when Medvec built his car from scratch. Now cars come in kits and sport aerodynamic shells.
So Medvec and his niece attended a race car-building clinic, with derby enthusiasts old and new, Tuesday night at ITAM Post 3 hall on Meridian Road to brush up on their skills.
"Her car, we've got a lot to do with it yet," Medvec acknowledged.
Youngstown derby board members gave tips on straightening axles and getting the weight just right, but mostly spoke of adhering to race regulations, which cover everything from a car's shape to where stickers can go.
Those looking for technological secrets from hard-core racers went away empty-handed, though.
Closely held secrets: Joe O'Neill, co-director of the Youngstown derby, said racers are tight-lipped about what they learn, mostly on the track.
Whether their children win or lose, Jim Rodway, derby board member from Boardman, said derby races are the most family-oriented sport he's ever come across.
Rodway wanted to race as a child but the Youngstown event was shut down before he ever got the chance.
His daughter Jenny, 11, has taken up the sport. They race almost every weekend, year-round, through a rally circuit that runs across the east coast.
"It's very competitive," Rodway said. "But it's a good chance for kids to meet other people."
Jenny, ranked fourth in her circuit, has established a group of friends from across the country that meets at races.
Jim Rodway said families can get into the world of derby racing for about $400 -- the cost of a kit.
For Medvec and other adults, time spent with children also has other benefits.
"You get to relive your youth a little bit," he said. "It brings a lot of good memories."
For more information call the derby office at (330) 726-5443 or on the Internet at www.soapboxyo.com.