Quincy Derby guaranteed record field for 20th running June 14-15

DERBY CAR

The Quincy Derby will take place June 14-15. | MRN file photo by Teresa Huner

QUINCY — It’s official. Next month’s Quincy Optimist Club Derby will have a record field.

The 20th annual event, formerly known as the Soap Box Derby, currently shows 234 entries in the Super Stock, Stock, Masters Elite and Super Kids divisions. That total surpasses the 226 kids who raced in 2019.

“What better way to celebrate our 20th anniversary than to have a record number of entrants?” said Ray Wilson, who has served as event director since 2012.

This year’s derby is scheduled for June 14-15 on 18th Street between the Ted Awerkamp Bridge and Bob Mays Park.

The Quincy Derby is now the largest double-elimination event of its kind in the nation. Only the single-elimination All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio is larger. Wilson said he hopes to see the day when the Quincy Derby eventually surpasses the Akron event in raw numbers. The Akron derby drew 323 kids for its 85th running last July.

“What this derby has become is not only a tribute to all of the families who have helped build it over the past two decades, but to the Optimist Club members who continually work to make it all happen,” Wilson said. “We have guys who work year year round on the cars, donating their time. They just get it, and they do all of that work not looking for for any kind of praise or anything like that. They simply know how important this event has become to the community.”

Wilson singled out club members Aiden McDonnell, Ken Ng, Glen Ebbing, Bill Awerkamp, Denny Zapatal, Bob Brown and Bill Henahan for going “above and beyond” to help make the derby an annual success.

“We also had a member, who shall remain anonymous, who asked family and friends instead of any presents for his birthday to make a donation to the derby,” Wilson said. “Those donations amounted to $1,000.”

Super Stock champ Kalli Mullen of Bluffs will be among the returnees, trying to become the first driver in that division to win back-to-back titles. Audrey Robison of Quincy will return to try for a second straight Stock Division championship.

Repeat champions have been rather commonplace in the Stock bracket, most notably Jadyn Vogel (2016-21) of Quincy, Kaelyn Hess (2012-13) of Quincy and Logan Steinkoenig (2010-11) of Quincy. 

Corin Robinson of Carthage, who won Masters Elite titles in 2022-23, will not compete this year. Wilson said she will be out of state on derby weekend.

Wilson said the Super Kids bracket (for those with special needs) will continue as a four-division setup, crowning four individual champions. The Super Kids will compete June 14 at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The Super Kids division will have most of its entries from West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri, but at least eight other regions will also be represented. Wilson said racers are coming from Springfield, Macomb, Jacksonville and the Chicago area. Additional entries from Missouri will be coming from Bowling Green, Jefferson City, Louisiana and Hannibal.

The Super Stock, Stock and Masters Elite divisions will run on June 15, beginning at about 8:30 a.m.

Wilson also singled out sponsors that have been on board for all 20 years: Knapheide, Hanson-Spear Funeral Home, Gem City Ford, Gardner Denver, Bump Shop Auto Body, Delta Tire and Awerkamp Machine.

Any questions about the derby should be directed to Wilson at (217) 491-3204.

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