Its all downhill for one SWCS gal

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Emma Justice displays her own soap box-racing car, which was purchased with the help of her neighbors in Galloway. She chose the pink car kit for the All-American Soap Box Derby because with each pink car purchased, the Derby donates $10 to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to promote breast cancer awareness.

While helping her fellow Girl Scout troops prepare food for spectators and participants at a local soap box derby event early this summer, 9-year-old Emma Justice fell in love with the sport.

"It’s just really competitive and fun for me," the Alton Hall Elementary fourth grader said.

In September, she raced for the first time in a borrowed car at the Columbus Rally, but was determined that she would have her own car at the next race, which was one month away.

Because her family did not have the money available to purchase the car kit in time for the Lancaster Soap Box Derby in October, she hit the pavement to collect those car funds.

"For a week she went door to door and asked for money to help her buy her derby car and she raised $680," said her mother Raquel Justice.

She also sold a few of her toys on eBay, to help pay for travel expenses to get to Lancaster.

It was an eventful race for Justice, as she placed eighth and experienced her first wreck.

"It was a bit scary, but they all wear helmets and are snuggled tightly into their cars, so it’s difficult for them to get hurt, thankfully," Raquel said.

That little hiccup, caused by brake failure and ending with a crash into the rails, did not deter Justice in the slightest. She was out at a local Kroger store on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 selling pizza coupon books and taking donations to help fund her upcoming derby excursions, which include the Toys for Tots Indoor Race on Dec. 6 in Akron.

While soap box racing is generally seen as a summer sport, there are local indoor rallies throughout the winter.

The more races the drivers compete in, the more points they accumulate. If they have enough points, they qualify for the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships, held each August at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio.

There are three divisions in soap box racing: Stock, Super Stock and Masters.

The Stock division is set up for racers aged 8-13. The cars can accommodate a person up to five feet three inches tall and 125 pounds. The Super Stock division is designed for racers aged 10-17, and can accommodate a racer up to six feet tall and 150 pounds, and the Masters division is for experienced racers between the ages of 10-17.

The Masters division is known for the drivers being in a laying down position, while the first two divisions are of a lean-forward design.

Justice is currently in the Stock division, but plans on being in the Masters division someday soon.

"That’s my goal," she said. "I think it would be a bit freaky because I’m not used to lying down in a car.

"It would be a little weird, but very exciting. I’m really looking forward to it."

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