Soapbox Derby racers feel the thrill of the hill at annual Akron races


Bryan Brilhart and Jesse Gist returned home this week from their weeklong trip to Akron, Ohio, where they competed in the 55th annual All-American Soapbox Derby.

The highlight for both was Saturday's race, as the two Westminster residents competed with 208 other youngsters from all over the world.

Brilhart, 11, competed in the stock car division, while Gist, 10, raced in the kit car division. They earned the right to represent Carroll County in the national derby by winning their respective divisions in the Carroll County Soapbox Derby last month in Westminster.

"The hill was a lot longer and a lot faster than the one in Westminster," said Brilhart, who lost a close race in the first round.

"There was around 60 racers in my class. The kid [in my heat] beat me by a foot and a half. I just ran the lanes wrong.

"The winner was cheered and got a trophy that was about 4 feet high. It was a great time."

DGist also lost a close first-round heat and finished 53rd out of the 84 racers that competed in his class.

All the racers arrived to Akron the Monday before the Saturday race day. They spent the week at a YMCA camp, where they enjoyed horseback riding, hiking, archery and canoeing, among other activities.

"We did a lot of things during the week, and everything was pretty fun," Brilhart said. "I liked the horseback riding the most, and we also got police escorts, which were fun, too."

Gist enjoyed the nature hikes.

"I do a lot of camping," he said. "The nature hikes were the most fun during the week. We walked around with a counselor who showed us different hiking and camping skills."

Both enjoyed meeting youngsters from all over the world.

"They had a big trade fair where you trade pins. I got ones from Australia and the Philippines and also met people from Germany and Canada," Brilhart said.

For now, it's back home for the two Carroll racers. Both are finishing the summer hanging out with friends and getting ready to go back to school.

They both plan to race again next year and would like another crack at the big hill in Akron.

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