Pennington brought along her friend, 10-year-old Advi Vallaban of Haymarket who Pennington introduced to Soap Box Derby.
Saturday was Vallaban’s first race.
“I’m kind of nervous because I don’t know how it’s going to be,” she said. “I have all these thoughts buzzing my head. I just straight up want to win. I don’t really care if I lose, but it would be nice to win.”
Ryan Jameson of Hollywood, Maryland, is another rising 6th grader. He agrees the downhill ride is exhilarating but he says there’s more to Soap Box Derby; there is the great camaraderie and the support of grown-ups.
“It’s fast and it’s very fun,” Jameson said. “It’s the people. Everybody is very nice and helpful.”
The race cars are assembled over the course of weeks and months from kits. Some are tried and trusted, if slightly used race-cars, handed down or passed on to other kids.
“I’ll tell you something that my dad told me a long time ago: One kid gets in the car, however the whole family’s involved,” said Billy Rayle, of Mechanicsville, Maryland, who grew up racing with his brother and won the national competition in 1978.
His family had three children participating in Saturday’s heats.
The winners in three different divisions, Stock (beginners), Super Stock, (experienced) and Masters (advanced) go on to compete in the finals in Akron, Ohio, on July 16.
Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.