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Racers beat the heat as well as the competition



Published: Sat, June 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Fifty-two cars were entered in this year's derby.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Two "veteran" sisters won a battle with another pair of sisters and a first-time winner came through at the running of the Greater Youngstown Area Soap Box Derby on Saturday.

After winning their divisions in the sixth renewal of the Youngstown derby, sisters Brooke, 15, and McKenzie Shaffer, 11, of Mineral Ridge are going back to Akron next month for the national Soap Box Derby and 12-year-old Brandon Krall of Poland will make the trip for the first time.

The three survived a day of competition in broiling 90-degree heat to emerge from the field of 52 total entries.

The participants raced their homemade vehicles down a 700-foot stretch of Fifth Avenue, but few of the head-to-head matchups were closer than Brandon's victory by 0.005 second over Dan Borosky, 14, of Boardman in the Super Stock finals.

"I was shaking the whole time," Brandon said.

Champions are decided by total margin of victory in two heat races.

"I just tried to stay a little bit straighter than I did in the first race to make up the time," Brandon said.

The sixth-grader at Holy Family School was racing for the first time in a car that he had built, with the help of grandfather and "pit pal" Frank Capuzello of Poland.

"I had to go and cry," Capuzello said. "We're very proud."

Both said other friends and family helped in the winning effort.

"You can't win this alone," Capuzello said.

The winners of the other two divisions are proof of that, too. Brooke and McKenzie were come-from-behind winners against another pair of sisters.

Brooke defeated Nicole Romeo of Boardman in the finals of the Masters Division to earn her third trip to the national Soap Box Derby. McKenzie defeated Nicole's sister, Stephanie, to advance to the July 25 national finals for the second time.

"They're good with each other, especially the older one helping the younger one," said Jim Postlethwait, the girls' stepfather and also the director of the derby.

The two raced against each other in last years' final, in which Brooke bested McKenzie.

Brooke said she was nervous after falling behind in her first race.

"It's always like that when you're behind," she said. "But I just tried to do the same thing that I did in the first race."Stephanie said she was excited to be going back to Akron. She raced there for the first time as a rally champion last year.

The race was the sixth local derby since the event was renewed in 2000 after a 28-year hiatus.

"It was a pretty good turnout," Postlethwait said of the 52 participants. "But we'd like to see more. We would especially like for new people to get involved in the program."




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