CONTEST PAVED THE WAY
What started as a need for speed ended in a lifelong pursuit.
WHEN I MADE A GO-KART in 1956, my neighbor Frank Cover, a weatherman with one of the local TV stations in Cleveland, Ohio, took my picture and used it on TV as a lead-in to the upcoming Soap Box Derby.
By the following year, I had decided to enter the race with my friend Larry Dailey. We picked up a rule book with illustrations showing how to build a derby car and got to work.
The main race sponsors in 1957 were the Cleveland News and several local Chevrolet dealerships, but anyone who paid for the parts and wheels to build a car could sponsor a driver. In return, the sponsor’s name went on the car. My dad, who owned a real estate company, sponsored us.
The next year, 1958, I got a new sponsor, Higbee’s Teen Board. My mom worked at Higbee’s department store as the assistant fashion coordinator for the Teen Board. She came up with the idea to sponsor my car and get the board involved.
She had me paint the car pink. Then she got eight Teen Board girls to attend the race wearing pink-andred dresses. They rode in the parade before the race and cheered me on as I raced down the long, high hill on Green Road in South Euclid east of Cleveland.
My interest in the derby and making things out of wood inspired me so much that I became a finish carpenter and cabinetmaker, which I’ve done for the last 52 years.