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Soap Box Derby in Naperville

Soap Box Derby

Two eight-foot tall starting ramps and more than 200 feet of a smooth racing track.

These kids are in it to win it at the Greater Chicago Soap Box Derby indoor race.

“We have a format that tries to make it easy for the racers to be as fair as possible. We run them down the track two different times, they will switch lanes and they will switch wheels,” said assistant race director Devin Smith. “And then they just go down and whoever’s got the best time out of the two wins and progresses through the charts.”

World Championship

Some of these racers are participating in the rally circuit race to earn points.

The goal is to reach a total of 600 points to move on to the summer World Championship in Ohio.

Naperville resident Vinny Licentra has been behind the wheel of his soap box derby car for four years thanks to his dad.

“I brought out a couple of cub scouts with me and they all tried it and had a good time, but it kind of stuck for Vinny,” said Tony Licentra.

It’s Not Just About Winning

Racing of course is a competition, but it’s not just about winning.

“Today’s event is all about getting families together to learn about science, technology, engineering, and mechanics,” said Smith.

There are three classes and cars: stock, super stock, and master. Depending on your age, height, and weight – that’s the car you race in.

There are many things to consider like your weight that goes into winning which can be a challenge.

“Sometimes you’ll adjust something and it’ll work out great and another time you’ll make the same adjustment and it works out not great,” said Tony.

But there are some other challenges that don’t have to do with the setup of the car.

“Staying focused is also another thing, not running off with your friends,” said Logan Sennholtz-Linder.

“We definitely have to work on that quite a bit, is keeping his head in it,” said his step-dad, Brian Butler.

Two Generations of Racers

Butler introduced his step-son to soap box derby since he was a racer himself when he was younger.

“He told me about it and there was a Naperville race. I was like, ok I’ll try it out. So I went down the hill a couple of times after and I was like, I like this,” said Sennholtz-Linder.

This sport has created a bond for them that lead to a special moment last year.

“My last year I was the first person to reach 200 points, when they had the old point system. And last year was the very last year for the 200 club and we were able to get him on the board with me,” said Butler.

“This is mainly dedicated to the 200 club. His car was Chi-Town Hustler and had the flame so we added that. And then the car I got 200 in was the Batmobile,” said Sennholtz-Linder.

“That was his idea of paying homage to both of our generations,” said Butler.

Since they’ve started, Sennholtz-Linder has placed third and fourth in the world championship and he hopes to become the all-time champ this year.

Sports Story Sunday’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.


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