Soap Box Derby
My brother and I had been going to the Boy's Club in Gainesville for a couple of years and at the Boy's Club they had a wood working shop which I really liked to hang out in. I thought it was the coolest place with all the tools and the smell of fresh cut wood. That year they posted information about the Soap Box Derby and so I took a brochure and decided to enter. After paying the initial fee of $22.50 I received the rule book, a set of Official axels and wheels and a steering kit. The Boy's club then provided a pre-cut plywood bottom board a cost of $2. There was a limit to the total amount you could spend on the car. Mine came up to a total of $14.99 although I notice that it does not include the costs of the fiberglass. I did some of the initial assembly at the Boy's club but with the club on the other side of town mom and dad couldn't get me over there enough so dad helped me bring it home to finish it. The rule book not only had extensive rules about what you could and could not due, it also had all sort of information about how to build the car. I remember studying the book for hours going over each diagram again and again planning each detail of the car and what I had to build next. There was the bulkheads, the brake system, the steering system and the covering.
The Boy's Club cut out the floorboard and dad cut some slots in the boards for the axel covers but otherwise I pretty much built the car myself. Dad got me a drawknife and I shaped the axel covers into an aerodynamic shape. (I still have the drawknife.) Dad came up with the idea to cover it in fiberglass. I first covered the frame in burlap then brushed fiberglass over it. It ended up being a bit rough but it worked.
Each Soap Box had to have a sponsor and so mine was George's Hardware . George's Hardware was a good old fashion hardware store that pretty much had everything. It was just down the road from where we lived so I would ride my bike there to get a part, perhaps a hinge, pulley or eyebolt. I loved that place. I think I would often go there just to look at all the stuff they had. I'm not sure how I came up my car number which was 66. Here is picture of me with the finished car on our carport and with Happy our dog in the foreground.
The day of the race was really exciting. There were entries in my age class. The race was at "Gator Hill" which is on the main road though town, University Avenue. Gator Hill is only a short distance from where we lived and so some of the kids in the neighborhood came down to watch the race. According to the Gainesville sun article the day before there was an added attraction at the race was Ranger Hal from Jacksonville television fame. I sure don't remember him though being so busy with the race and all.
I did fairly well, winning my first run and second runs but losing in the end. Here I am crossing the finish line. It was good enough for me to get runner-up in the class and thus a trip to Jacksonville for the district races.
The whole family went to Jacksonville for the races. Here we are having lunch out of the back of the station wagon.
Here is dad adjusting the wheel on my car. David is standing next to me wearing a sailor hat. We both had sailor hats that our uncle Gary gave to us and we wore them for many years.