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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Indy Soap Box Derby champ makes history

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After a victorious run in the 70th All American Local Soap Box Derby race held at Wilbur Shaw Soap Box Derby Hill, Sara Mack will be the first African-American female to compete at the national competition.

Traveling to Akron, Ohio, Mack will be competing in the All American Soap Box Derby with other state champions from across the United States to win the title of World Champion on July 26.

“When I was competing I was really nervous,” said 13-year-old Mack. “But after I won I was so happy because I knew I was going to Akron and that’s all I ever wanted.”

Mack, who has been racing for four years, was first introduced to this sport by her father, Robert Mack.

“I had heard about this youth racing program called the Inner City Racing League from Kim Flowers,” he said. “I wanted Sara to be a part of it because she is very athletic, and I knew it would be an overall great experience for her.”

Established eight years ago, the Inner City Racing League was established to get kids who normally would not have the opportunity to participate involved in Soap Box Derby races. Kids can get involved for free due to a $100, 000 budget donated by various companies that believe in the program’s cause.

“We don’t turn kids away,” said volunteer Larry Thienes, whose family has had a rich tradition in participating in derby races. “We raise funds so anyone interested can participate. We really want to make a difference in these kids lives.”

Volunteers like Thienes work with interested kids from spring until the end of summer to get them prepared to race. Using the Wilbur Shaw derby hill, youth drivers, volunteers and parents dedicate many hours to practicing and working on successful techniques.

The Inner City Racing League has approximately 50 cars that young drivers can use to compete in either the stock, super stock or masters division which are differentiated by age, weight and skill level of each individual driver.

“The goal of the Inner City Racing League is to provide these kids with the tools they need to be competitive,” said Thienes. “The amount of effort they put into it determines what they get out of this experience.”

According to Thienes, Sara Mack is a prime example of where hard work and dedication can lead a motivated individual.

“Sara is a sweet young lady and a wonderful kid,” he said. “She is a fantastic driver who is always eager to take the necessary steps to become successful. I have no doubt in my mind that she will do great at Akron.”

After winning the Mayor’s Cup race two years in a row and then losing it last year due to an inability to get properly warmed up, it was uncertain if Mack would even continue racing.

“When she lost that race I could see how disappointed and hurt Sara was,” her father said. “I asked her if she wanted to continue and she told me she would keep on going until she became a champ at Akron.”

In order to prepare for Saturday’s race, Mack is exercising, continually conducting car inspections on her car and working on maintaining tunnel vision due to the differences in Indianapolis’ track and Akron’s track.

“It’s going to be challenging because Akron has a three-lane track while I’m used to a two-lane track,” said the Guion Creek Middle School student. “I’m really excited about Akron because I know I’m going to be competing against the best.”

For more information, visit www.aasbd.org or www.indianapolissoapboxderby.org.

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