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Sellersville siblings sweep annual soap box derby

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

By Jennifer Mohan
Staff Writer

Despite a few minor glitches, the annual Indian Valley Soap Box Derby went off without a hitch as 66 racers rolled their cars down Main Street in Souderton, Saturday, June 5.

“We had a couple kids that ran into the timing mechanism at the end of the hill,” said Jim Pike, IVSBDA president. “Other than that everything was great.”

While no one was injured in the minor accidents, Pike said each one set the race back an additional half-hour, the time necessary for race officials to recalibrate the mechanisms.

Pike joked that he may have “jinxed” the event, as he initially told everyone the race would be completed by 3 p.m. “I think for every minute we went past, someone reminded me of my prediction.”

His prediction could have played a part in the thinning of the crowd of spectators as the day wore on, but a more likely culprit was the oppressive heat from the hazy sunshine.

“I think everyone is just going home when their racer is finished,” said Deb Henning, grandmother of Andrew Henning, a racer in the stock division.

Henning said she would get excited for her grandson when he was winning his heats of the race, but she couldn’t help but admit that the excitement would give way to a tiny bit of disappointment when she realized that meant she was going to have to stay out in the weather to watch a little longer.

“It’s just too hot out here,” she said. “It’s a great day for the kids though, so it is all worth it.”

Those who did manage to stick it out until the end of the derby, which concluded just a little past 5 p.m., were witness to a novel occurrence in IVSBA history: two Sellersville siblings clinched the top spot in each division of the race.

Paige Fleck, 10, won the stock division, while her brother, Tyler, 13, took home the top prize in the super stock division of the IVSBA race.

“This is something that has never been done before in the history of our race,” said Pike. “It is not an easy thing to do.”

And Pike was right. Even though they may have come out on top, it wasn’t exactly an easy ride for the Flecks. Paige lost her very first race and Tyler lost his second heat. This meant the only option of winning for both Flecks was to come up though the consolation bracket.

“It is actually harder to win that way,” said Ken Fleck, father of the two top finishers. “You have to win several more races just to make it to the finals and you can’t make any mistakes.”

According to the AASBA rules, after a racer loses twice they are eliminated from the race. This means the winner of each heat advances in the winner’s bracket and the loser moves to the consolation bracket.

In the finals heat, the racer who has advanced through the consolation bracket with no second defeat races against the undefeated driver from the winner’s bracket. If the consolation bracket driver wins the first heat of the finals race, the race then goes into a sudden death finals heat, as it is a double elimination race.

“Yeah, it was a Fleck finale,” said Jessica Fleck with a laugh to several people congratulating her on the family win. “I’m still in shock.”

This year was Paige’s third year racing. In previous years she placed sixth and fourth. Tyler began racing in 2005 and has several titles already under his belt, including 2009 World Rally Champion.

Both Tyler and Paige, as well as all the winners and participants in the race, received trophies and honors at a banquet held at Franconia Heritage later Saturday evening.