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Autumn Phillips

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On your marks

Soap Box Derby moves to Oak Creek

Key Points Old Town Puppet Company When: 11 a.m. June 21 Where: Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park Cost: $1 for children; $5 for adults Call: 879-5056, ext. 107 When: 7 p.m. June 29 and 7 p.m. July 13 Where: Yampa River Botanic Park Cost: Free When: 6:15 to 7 p.m. Aug. 3 Where: Bud Werner Memorial Library lawn Cost: Free

If you’ve attended the annual Rotary Club Soap Box Derby in the past, you’ve never seen it like this.

This year’s soap box derby will be held on Main Street in Oak Creek and will be followed by a free concert by Loose Change in Decker Park. At the end of the concert, an awards ceremony will be held on stage for the top three winners of the soap box derby.

As in prior years, the derby will be paired with several carnival-style, teen-focused, alcohol- and drug-prevention games called Youth In Motion. Each participant in YIM will be eligible for prizes.

The Steamboat Springs Car Club also will be present, showing off members’ pet projects.

The actual soap box derby portion of the day begins at 9 a.m. at the top of Main Street in front of Old Town Hall.

“We decided to move it this year (from Steamboat Springs) to attract more attention,” said organizer and Rotary Club member Ben Northcutt. “They’re a small community, they are really enthusiastic about this event, and it gives South Routt an event to kick off their summer.”

The town of Oak Creek is sponsoring the event with the Steamboat Springs Rotary Club.

Fifteen racers will participate. This year’s course will be twice as long as the Steamboat course, measuring almost 800 feet.

Andru Kulas has raced in the soap box derby every year since the event was founded in 2001. Since he was 10 years old, Kulas and his father, Ray Kulas, have worked at streamlining and perfecting his Soap Box Derby car.

Now 15, Andru Kulas has a learner’s permit to drive a real car. Because soap box derby racers must be between the ages of 8 and 16, Kulas sees that he only has one or two chances to win a trip to the national race in Akron, Ohio.

Ray Kulas said the best thing about building the Derby cars together is the chance to teach his son what he knows.

“We just really enjoy it,” Ray Kulas said. Andru’s car is painted with a Colorado flag on the side. “We’ve waited our turn, and hopefully we win this year. We’d like to go to Akron. It’s a trip not too many people get to make.”

Winners of the annual Rotary Club-sponsored derby are given an all-expense-paid trip to the national All American Soap Box Derby in Akron. Last year, Megan Rae took the trip to race against 500 other children in front of 10,000 spectators.