Soapbox derby offers a wheel-good time

First-time drivers and veterans join the fun

Hood River earned a place on the Northwest soapbox racing map last weekend when it hosted its first-ever sanctioned All-American Rally Race.

Approximately 40 gravity-propelled cars from as far away as Salem, Bend and Spokane, Wash., invaded Cascade Avenue Saturday and Sunday for the derby, which was sponsored by the Hood River Lions Club, Print It!, and Community Education.

"The support of the town and the amount of people that turned out made our first race a very positive experience for everyone involved," coordinator Jeff McCaw said. "People from other cities even told us they were jealous that we had so many people show up to help out."

Also contributing to the success of the weekend races was the Columbia River Soapbox Derby Association out of Camas, Wash., which provided critical race components such as an electronic timing system, a public address system, and a starting gate.

CRSDA also brought along a few experienced competitors. One, Lauren Menor, piloted her way to a first-place finish Saturday and a second-place finish Sunday in the Super Stock division. Her brother, Chase, won Sunday's Stock competition.

Super Stock cars are more aerodynamic than standard Stock cars and are allowed to carry more weight, which can make it difficult for smaller, less experienced racers to compete.

Because most local competitors are relatively new to the sport, they opted to compete in the Stock division.

But while these kids may be new to the soapbox racing circuit, that didn't stop two Hood River competitors from eyeing the checkered flag.

Nathan McCaw blazed to a second place Saturday, just behind Madison Stapleton of Portland, and finished sixth out of 19 racers on Sunday.

Equaling McCaw's feat on Sunday was Eric VanDyke, who finished second in the Stock competition and beat out Saturday's champ, Stapleton, using one of 10 cars provided by the Lions Club.

"One thing I learned the first day was to stay low on the course," said VanDyke, who could be seen buffing his car's chassis between races. "You want to reduce the wind resistance as much as possible because everything counts in these races."

Joining VanDyke and McCaw among the Northwest's racing elite was Shaun Hillen, who finished eighth in Sunday's Stock competition. Other local speed demons were Jason DeGeus, Jonathan Frost, Chris Murray, Lucy Andresen and Luke Nance.

"I plan to be back next year," Nance said. "I've had a lot of fun learning how the cars work. And going fast is also pretty fun."

So fun that Jeff McCaw and other soapbox supporters are already beginning to think about next year.

"From what we saw over the weekend, this community really gets behind events like this," he said. "It was exciting to see."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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