Soapbox derby draws 15 competitors and plenty of support from family

By Janet Bresenham

Keeping your head down can prove helpful for many situations in life.
For the Clovis Soap Box Derby, it can mean the difference between winning or losing a run.
“You duck your head down as low as you can go,” said Morgan Mayfield, 10, of Texico, in between heats of her first derby, where she had won three heats by noon.
Mayfield, the daughter of Rick and Marti Mayfield, was one of 15 area youngsters competing Saturday in the 2nd Annual All-American Soap Box Derby in Clovis, sponsored by the Clovis Rotary Club.
She and her cousin, Spencer Norris, 11, raced past their own personal cheering section, as family members lined the street.
“Go, Spencer. Go, Spencer. Yeah,” his mother, Shelly Norris, yelled every time her son ran a heat. “They have no control over the speed, so a lot of it is just luck.”
Spencer built his soap box derby car in about a week’s time with help from his father, Layne, and his brother, Austin, 14, who raced in the derby last year.
Robin Isler, who was watching her daughter Jadee race a car, shared her advice: “You just really have to sit for the ride.”
Eric Collings, 11, who built his first car with his dad Rick, already had figured out another key to competing.
“Just stay straight,” he said.
For the two lanes of the Soap Box Derby, Sycamore Street was shut down for several blocks near 14th Street in front of Yucca Junior High School and lined with large hay bales at every driveway and intersection to catch any wayward cars.
Lucinda Fritz, 11, ultimately won the day’s event, which lasted more than four hours and featured 63 heats.
“I think it’s fun to see the parents and kids working together on the projects,” said Lonnie Leslie, who was in charge of lining up the cars this year, his second year assisting the event.
Fellow Clovis Rotary Club member Eldon Smith, whose responsibilities included inspecting and weighing the cars, didn’t hesitate when explaining the best part of the Soap Box Derby — “the kids.”
Jerry and Vandean Isler proved that point by driving in from Grady to watch their granddaughter.
“It looks like it would be a lot of fun,” said Jerry Isler, a big grin stretched across his face.
Not all the action was in the street Saturday.
Tiger Cub Jonathan Pederson, 6, found a way to combine the fun with fund-raising, as he roamed the groups of spectators, selling chili dogs and drinks to help his big brother, Benjamin Pederson, 8, and Josh Rigney, 8, raise money for their Cub Scout Troop No. 225.