QUNCY — If a Mount Rushmore equivalent for accomplishments tied to to the Quincy Derby ever were to exist, a Riley Delgado caricature is guaranteed a spot.
Delgado may have forever chiseled his way into the folklore of an event that has long been part of a community’s heartbeat.
What Delgado did Saturday was simply the stuff of legends.
The 8-year-old Fowler resident put together what is arguably the single-most impressive feat in the 18-year history of what was once known as the Quincy Soap Box Derby.
Delgado was knocked into the Super Stock division’s losers bracket after his second race early Saturday morning. He then proceeded to string together an unprecedented 11 consecutive victories, coming out of the losers’ bracket to defeat Maddie Maas of Quincy twice in the finals.
Delgado not only won his first derby championship after going 0-2 a year ago as a rookie. He established a record for most victories en route to his 12-1 finish on the 18th Street hill bordering Bob Mays Park. That was three more wins than any driver had ever amassed in a single derby since the Quincy Optimist Club-sponsored Grand Prix of Gravity’s 2005 inception.
“After his early loss, he wanted to quit,” said Riley’s dad, Jesus Delgado.
Obviously, Riley did not.
“I was getting a little tired (as the day wore on),” Riley said as he wiped the sweat from his face and rolling his eyes moments after winning the title — and just after he had leaped into his dad’s arms for a massive victory embrace.
Jesus had been dealing with his own emotional tightrope.
“It was just so … unreal,” he said. “It was especially difficult during those last few races. My stomach was turning.”
Dad was not alone with his feelings.
“I was nervous,” admitted Riley, his eyes lighting up again while reliving his march to the championship.
Riley’s eyes also lit up when he talked about the new Playstation 5 he’ll soon be getting.
“I promised him one if he won,” Jesus admitted.
Once the post-race hoopla began to fade, Jesus scanned the track and those still lingering and began talking about what had unfolded.
“What those who put on this event do for the kids is amazing,” he said, shaking his head in admiration. “I just hope even more people get involved with them on this.”
Saturday’s Super Stock, Stock and Elite Masters competition followed a day-long Friday event devoted to Super Kids — kids with emotional and/or physical challenges, some of them severe.
“I just can’t say enough good things about this,” Jesus said.
Finishing behind Delgado and Maas (6-2) in the 63-racer Super Stock division were Braxton Anders (5-2) of Quincy and Isaac Roberts (5-2) of Durham, Mo.
Delgado also won the Hard Charger Award for his climb through the losers’ bracket. Anders was named Rookie of the Year.
Delgado’s achievement overshadowed might have otherwise been the big story of the day.
Jadyn Vogel of Quincy was denied a seventh straight title in the Stock division. The derby’s all-time leader in victories was knocked into the losers’ bracket after two opening wins, then won four straight races before being ousted by eventual fourth-place finisher Noah Tasco of Quincy.
Vogel,13, who also competed in the Super Stock and Masters Elite classes, ended her day with an overall record of 8-6. She is now 66-20 in eight years of competing, including a 56-8 mark in Stock action.
Tanner Wisely (7-1) of Coatsburg defeated Gabriel Zehnle (7-2) of Quincy in the Stock finals. Mason Ericson (6-2) of Quincy and Tasco (5-2) rounded out the top four in the 51-racer bracket.
Wisely’s championship was his first and the second for his family. His brother, Tyler Wisely, won the 2020 Super Stock championship.
Tanner Wisely, who also competed in Super Stock and Master Elite, finished his day 13-5 and is 34-13 overall in his derby history. Tyler Wisely, 5-2 in Super Stock, is now 40-14 overall and became the second derby driver to reach 40 career wins.
Corin Robinson of Carthage won the Master Elite championship, which debuted in the derby in 2020. Robinson (4-0) defeated Kallie Mullen (4-2) of Bluffs in the championship round. Tanner Wisely and Vogel completed the top four finishers. Mullen improved her overall career record to 36-11.
Robinson, a rookie in the derby, said the more she raced, the more comfortable she became with the track.
“After the first race, things seemed to get easier,” Robinson said.
Delgado and Tanner Wisely’s titles in the Super Stock and Stock classes marked the first time boys have won both of those championships in the same year since 2011. Boys now have a 19-17 edge in those two divisions after girls had won 10 of the previous 12.
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