Corporal Matthew Habermann USMC and his wife Zorrie enjoy being home and the first running of the Peninsula Soap Box Derby.
The inaugural All American Soap Box Derby race on the Kenai Peninsula is now history and the young man who will always be the first to ever to hold the championship title is 14-year-old Tyler Glidden. After losing his first race Glidden in his Metal Magic sponsored racer made a text book come from behind victory to claim the 2007 championship. “After I lost I had to run against the slower cars, and I just started working my way back winning the next six times in a row to take the championship,” Glidden told the Dispatch.
Corporal Habermann USMC shared his experience in Iraq with Kenai and Soldotna Rotary Clubs while home on leave.
His first time to ever drive a soap box racer Glidden said he changed his strategy after loosing his first heat, “We thought we had a pretty good idea on how to handle the course, but it didn’t work out so we started taking the inside corner and staying on the white line when on the inside and that started working for us,” said Tyler. With one lose against him Tyler had no margin for error and if he lost another heat he would have been eliminated, “The final heat I was a little worried but I got a lot of encouragement from my Dad and my supporters and I was able to finish a full second ahead of the next car,” he said.
With a come from behind victory Tyler Glidden claims the first All American Soap Box Derby Championship on the Kenai Peninsula.
Tyler’s father Dale heard about the race from Scott Hammond of Metal Magic in Nikiski, “He bought the car kit and asked me if I had a son old enough to race it and I told him I did and that I would appreciate the chance to work with him on the racer. Scott funded the car and Tyler built it and we just showed him the directions and walked him through each step. It was an amazing experience, it was a great day, everyone was a good sport and we’re looking forward to an even bigger event next year with more competition,” said Dale.
Tyler Glidden guides his Metal Magic Soap Box Derby racer to victory down Spruce Street in the 1st All American Soap Box Derby run on the Kenai Peninsula.
In second place was Asa Turner driving the Soldotna Stars car sponsored by Moxi Care Coordinators, and coming in third was veteran racer Josette Renken driving their family car. There’s more to the Soap Box Derby than winning, learning craftsmanship skills is also rewarded. Selected to receive the NAPA Craftsmanship Trophy was the car built by the Nikiski Bull Dogs, and the Sportsmanship Trophy sponsored by Sweeney’s Clothing went to the Renken Family and the Nikiski Bulldogs racing team.
Spectators and sponsors felt the first event was very successful and are looking forward to next year’s race. Home from Iraq on leave 2004 Soldotna High School graduate Corporal Matthew Habermann USMC and his wife Zorrie spent the day enjoying the races and encouraging the kids. Habermann has been visiting Rotary Clubs and sharing his experiences as a United States Marine and his appreciation for the community support of our troops, “We are making headway in Iraq. Since we got there I’ve seen buildings re-built and cities becoming safer, but it’s going to take time and it’s not going to be over quickly. We just need to stick with it,” said Habermann. He went to say that programs like the Red, White, and Blue program that sends letters and packages to troops is the best thing we can do to help those in military service, “It’s very helpful. Getting a package even from someone you don’t know is extremely helpful and makes you feel that people are thinking of me and supporting us. Not everyone supports the military so it really means a lot to be from a community that does, and I’m thankful to all who participate in supporting us,” said Habermann. Corporal Habermann is scheduled to re-deploy to Iraq in January for a 12 month tour.
The Kenai Rotary Club was responsible for bringing the first Soap Box Derby race to the Kenai and is looking forward to a bigger and better event next year. “We will work to get more racers so that we can send our champion to Akron, Ohio to compete at the national finals for the All American Soap Box Derby,” said Randy Daly.
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