TWENTY YEARS of racing were celebrated as the 20th running of the Martins Ferry Soap Box Derby unfolded Sunday under perfect conditions, featuring clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-80s tempered by a light breeze.
Despite two decades of derby racing history, there were still a few firsts at this year's event.
Moundsville's Jacob Wilkerson became the first racer to win a second crown, repeating his 2010 first-place finish by edging Collin Briggs. Briggs, who finished in second place last year, won the checkered flag in the second of the two championship runs, but Wilkerson' steered a near perfect groove in lane two to cross the electronic traps .280 ahead of Briggs. The 10-year old runner-up could not make up the deficit in the second run.
RACE DIRECTOR Ralph King, center, poses with the winners from Sunday’s 20th Annual Martins Ferry Soap Box Derby. Pictured, from left, are Noah E. Brown (fourth place) , Collin Briggs (runner-up), Jacob Wilkerson (champion), Caden Rine (third place), Kelsi Weaver (Super Kids Champion). To see more Derby photos view cu.timesleaderonline.com
Wilkerson was involved in another first for the derby, just to get to the finals, as the first two heats in his half of the bracket ended in a tie. The .043 margin of victory for Caden Rine was duplicated by Wilkerson, causing race officials to declare a dead heat and a re-run the two races.
The 001 Wilkerson Glass-sponsored car would prevail in the second set of downhill runs and provide the ride for the fifth-grader at Washington Lands school in Moundsville for the finals.
"Go to the outside," said Wilkerson when asked for his secret to success, the son of Fred and Brenda Wilkerson, was focused on winning a family four pack of one-day passes to Kings Island amusement park and $250 in cash.
When asked who would be joining him on the trip to Kings Island, Jacob stated no decision on the final four had been reached but his father was sure someone on the list would have to be able to drive.
Runner-up Briggs is the son of Briget Briggs and Justin Johnson, Joey and Tiffany Danehart. As second place winner driving the Griffiths Pharmacy number 99 car, he received a family four pack of one-day passes to "The Wilds" wildlife conservation center and $125 cash.
In the consolation round, it was Rine taking third place honors. The son of Derek and Lisa Rine, he is a student at St. Clairsville Middle School. Driving the Ferry Hardware No. 1 car he received a trophy and a $75 cash prize.
Noah E. Brown, last year's champion, rounded out the trophy winners in his Citizens Bank sponsored No. 42 racer. The son of Mark and Wendy Brown, the 12-year-old student at St. Clairsville Middle School won fourth place honors and received a $50 cash prize.
The top four finishers received trophies in a ceremony following the finals with the overall champions name to be added to the trophy that is on display at the Martins Ferry Chamber of Commerce office.
In addition to the final four winners, Kelsi Weaver, age 10 and a student at Ayers Elementary successfully defended her crown to become another two-time champion and was the proud winner of the 2012 Super Kids Classic and received a trophy and a $150 cash prize.
Race committee chairman and event director Ralph King handed out his final trophies as he will step down and handle the timer duties next season. He will step into the post held for the last 12 years by Brian Dawes who is stepping down.
"I will miss it, but I feel it is time to move on," said Dawes who built the timing system. Reworked the starting ramps and built the transport trailers for the cars on race day.
Wilkerson will have the opportunity to come back in 2013 to defend his title next year and set a new record for a three-peat winner of the Great Race.
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