In celebration of Labor Day, roughly 40 kids from different states were welcomed to the Little Creek Park derby track to burn some rubber and leave it all on the track for the annual Kanawha Valley Soap Box Derby Labor Day Rally Race (KVSBD).
This unique family-oriented sport can either be taken lightly, or taken very seriously, depending on how much you’re in it to win it.
For the Ostranders, from Rantoul, IL, who traveled eight hours to bring the heat try to leave it all on the track for every competition. Soap Box Derby racing isn’t a hobby they practice, but a real sport they’ve been trying to perfect since 2003.
Mike Ostrander has two sons, the eldest (23) who has long retired from the sport, and his youngest, Josh Ostrander (15) who was born and bred to derby.
“It gets old until I’m back on the track, because before and after gets kind of boring, you’re waiting there for an opponent, but when I’m in the car actually going down the track, that’s when all boredom goes away and it’s just bliss,” said Josh.
At the KVSBD Labor Day Rally Race, three divisions were available to compete in: Stock, Super Stock, and Master Stock, and for Josh, competing Super Stock.
Since 2003, Mike has documented every run his two sons have ran by writing stats in a little notebook, which he is completing vol. 7, and taking still-shot photos.
If anything, if we win, that’s great and if not, I can look at him and say ‘Josh what happened?’ and he might go ‘I don’t know,’ but we just try again, and that’s why I take photos of every run, because I can give him feedback on how he ran that line,” said Mike.
And while the feedback is great to help Josh master his craft, the time has come that Mike now watches proudly from the sidelines and lets Josh make his own calls on the track.
“I don’t even tell him what lines to run anymore. He picks them and we just give it our best shot and we end up… well I tell people we end up where God wants us to end up. If that’s first, that’s wonderful, if not first… well disappointing but we ended up where we’re supposed to end up,” said Mike.
And while this duo takes the sport very seriously, it’s not all about winning. Mike and Josh are very grateful for the friendships they’ve built around this sport, and simply love hanging out with people who love to derby just as much as they do.
Every year, the International Soap Box Derby competition, or better known as the “Masters,” takes place in July, for which racers are practicing hard for, for the chance to compete.