Photo by Dave Felice / Whidbey News Group
                                In the major grudge match of the day, Gary Piper (L) finishes just behind veteran Peter Lawlor driving his “Red Hot Chili” car Sunday in Langley.

Photo by Dave Felice / Whidbey News Group In the major grudge match of the day, Gary Piper (L) finishes just behind veteran Peter Lawlor driving his “Red Hot Chili” car Sunday in Langley.

Racers gravitate to derby

While there are no official winners in Langley’s annual Soup Box Derby, 96-year-old Peter Lawlor retires in victory piloting his “Red Hot Chili” car. Lawlor, a community favorite, narrowly beat another well-know driver, Gary Piper, who drove his “Outhouse” car.

The “grudge match” Sunday morning was Lawlor’s final event after 14 years of participation before turning the wheel over to his daughter, Gretchen.

Piper did get some measure of revenge when he outpaced Gretchen in a later matchup.

The Sprinklz car, driven by Johnny Pultro, was the fastest in all of its races. “We did our part in our cart,” says passenger Sam Martin. He and fellow riders Carson Wrighton and Trinity Krouse “came for a W (win)” and achieved their objective.

Dean Peterson moved the Whidbey Island Pirate Academy car through preliminary stages and finished just behind Spinklz in the day’s final race. The WIPA car is designed to look like a wooden sailing ship.

Now in his third year of Soup Box racing at age 6 1/2, Owen Kampsure did very well, according to his mom, Kendra.

Edmund Kunz, 9, of Coupeville drove his “1896” car of his own design for the first year. He says the design, which looks like two bicycles side-by-side, is great, but he’s already thinking of aerodynamic and weight improvements for next year. He says the name of the car is derived from its appearance as a broken-down carriage.

Daniel Goldsmith, “Mr. South Whidbey,” was back with his car “Myrtle,” named for the well-dressed mannequin positioned in the back of the car.

Seven-year-old Cooper Zachritz did well in his “Holodeck Virtual Reality Machine.” Tyler Thrasher, however, had some difficulty with getting his “Terrible Homemade” car to the finish line, as did Ben Greer in his “Tilted Orange” vehicle. The crowd cheered as Greer’s young son Rise ran barefoot behind the car.

Several hundred people, including some from local guest accommodations, lined the hill down First Street from Park Avenue to Anthes Street to watch the zany races and cheer their favorite drivers. There were 21 cars in this year’s event.

Cars consist of any steerable wheeled conveyance powered only by gravity. Participants are strongly encouraged to be creative and outrageous in the design and decoration of vehicles. Everyone gets a handmade trophy of their choice.

Tim Leonard was back with a couple of cars. Once again, he drove the silver-colored #13 “All Nighter.” The car moves well despite plywood wheels which clatter on the pavement. Mathias Collins drove Leonard’s “Green Machine,” a go-kart without an engine.

Dressed as “Cat in the Hat,” Langley Mayor Tim Callison piloted an ambitious six-wheel “Dr. Seuss” car. Passengers Robin Black, Michaleen McGarry, and Brian Dunnington also wore costumes. The car finished ahead of Gary Piper in the semi-final run.

“Reverend” Dylan Banks, in his fifth year, drove the black “Shorty’s Special” car. Brad Rice had a kayak on wheels.

With support from about 50 business sponsors, the Soup Box Derby is presented by the Langley Community Club and the Langley Main Street Association.

Proceeds of about $5,000 benefit local civic activities.

“The 2016 Soup Box Derby was a one-time memorial to Tucker Stevens, a past president of the Langley Community Club who passed away in 2015,” says John Lawson, now club secretary. “The track itself is named ‘Zippy Raceway’ in memory of Tobiah ‘Zippy’ Leonard, who died at age 9 in 2011.”

Photo by Dave Felice / Whidbey News Group
                                The Sprinklz car, driven by Johnny Pultro, was the most successful of the day, crossing the finish line first in all of its stages of the Soup Box Derby Sunday in Langley.

Photo by Dave Felice / Whidbey News Group The Sprinklz car, driven by Johnny Pultro, was the most successful of the day, crossing the finish line first in all of its stages of the Soup Box Derby Sunday in Langley.

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