Soap Box Derby Benefits Area Youth Organizations


From Special Reports

A large number of smiling young engineering and sporting enthusiasts were on the roads in downtown Newnan last Saturday.

Each one got behind the wheel of his or her very own custom-made vehicle for an old-fashioned Soapbox Derby, a fundraiser to benefit the Coweta Community Foundation, Bridging the Gap, and local Boys & Girls Clubs.

The winners of the event include:

Youth Winners

1st: Cheetah Bowser: Cordell Jackson, Sasha Jackson, Jacob Crace-Yamaha, Drew Hood-Yamaha

2nd: Cheetah’s Always Win: Idriyelle Geter, Darin Yawn-Yamaha, Kyle Meyhofer-Yamaha

3rd: KMR: Kamryn Richardson, Kamora Richardson, Evan Kaminsky-Yamaha, David Norris-Yamaha, Jason Broshear-Yamaha, Ivan Chan-Yamaha

4th: Webb Designs: Hunter Webb, Fisher Webb, Grant Fain-Yamaha, Victoria Chee-Yamaha, Wendy Morris-Yamaha

Adult Soapbox Winners

1st: Tomco-Hammer Down: Tom Crymes, Jay Boland, Greg Anderson, Holden Harris, Jaimee Nosworthy

2nd: Bonnell Aluminum: Justin Thompson, Randy Johnson, Ron Garrett, Jimmy Johnson, Cesar Maltes

3rd: J&M Pools: Matt Moore, Matt Harris, Craig Scriber, Ben Marshall, Jacob Brandlehner

Fastest Over All

Cheetah Bowser car driven by Soapbox Design Guru Jacob Crace, support by Yamaha Development and Testing Engineers

Best In Show

J&M Pools

Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation, the title sponsor for the event, had a real hands-on role in the entire process. Their engineers and other design professionals brought in the contestants to their Newnan facility and walked them through the creation of their vehicles from start to finish. Once the racing machines were built, the young drivers were able to test them under the supervision of their Yamaha partners in advance of the actual race.

“When they showed up to actually build their cars, I could see the light in their eyes,” said Amelia Davis, regional director, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. “It gave them such enthusiasm to know that they can build something from beginning to end.”

Yamaha employees spent several weeks off and on lending a hand to the racers.

“It’s been a really unique experience for us that are in the structured ‘day in, day out’ of corporate work to have this opportunity to take our skillset and our knowledge and relate that to an application that’s fun for the kids,” said Yamaha senior design engineer Evan Kaminsky.

The design workshops allowed the young people to give their input on the design and breathe life into the cars so that they would be unique to each child’s liking. For Kaminsky, hearing these kids say thank you and that the car turned out exactly as their young minds conceived it was especially gratifying.

The educational part of the experience was not lost on the grownups, either.

“It’s been cool to have these kids actually turn a wrench and understand some of the mechanical properties and have a mechanical understanding of systems in general,” said Kaminsky.

Or, as development engineer Jake Crace put it: “When kids learn science, everybody wins.”

Even in the initial stages of the design, the young people expressed their excitement about the upcoming race as they began to see their visions come to life.

“I’m most excited about driving a car and meeting new people and winning the prize,” said Trevion.

“I love riding my bike. I think it’ll be even cooler to be in the soapbox like that,” said Virginia.

Once the process moved from design to assembly and the actual cars began to take shape, the kids were even more in awe.

“It was crazy,” said Adonis. “I didn’t think it was going to look like we actually wanted it to look. I like it. This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

Coweta Community Foundation board chair Cynthia Bennett noted that probably the most remarkable thing she heard on the day the finished cars were revealed was when one young man looked at the engineers and said, “This has been the best hour of my life.”

While the cars were built by and for children, many of the adults were impressed enough that they would not have hesitated to get behind the wheel if given an opportunity.

“If I had the chance to race any of these cars, I would,” said Amelia Davis. “But I was so excited to stand on the sidelines and watch these kids live out their dream.”

But just standing back and watching has been its own reward, as CCF executive director Kristen Webb acknowledged.

“Seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces, and the smiles on the adults’ faces, has been a true highlight,” Webb said.


We’re Yamaha. We Make Memories. Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America designs and assembles WaveRunners, ATVs, Side by Sides, and Golf Cars at the Newnan plant. One of Coweta County’s largest private employers, Yamaha is currently expanding the team. Current openings include many professionals and skilled labor direct hires. Details are at

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