Steve Eighinger

Be proud this weekend, Quincy

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 14, 2018 9:05 am

The more I think about it, the more I think he could be right.

I recently had a conversation with good friend Ray Wilson, who helps coordinate the Quincy Soap Box Derby for the Optimist Club.

"I think Quincy could easily lay claim to being the racing capital of Illinois," Ray said.

Here was his rationale.

"We have the Grand Prix of Karting again, we have the Soap Box Derby and we have Quincy Raceways," he said.

Well, Ray does have a point -- or two, or three.

The Grand Prix of Karting was, at one time, one of the premier U.S. events for that sport, and is well on the way back to reclaiming that position. Last weekend more than 300 karters and an estimated 10,000 fans from across the nation gathered at South Park for the rebirth of the Grand Prix. Next year's event will probably attract around 500 racers and who knows how many attendees.

The local Soap Box Derby has mushroomed into the largest in the country outside of the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio. More than 200 youngsters, including almost 100 in the Super Kids division (those with mental or physical challenges). This year's Soap Box Derby rolls on Friday and Saturday at Derby Hill near Bob Mays Park.

Quincy is also home to the 44-year-old dirt track at 8000 Broadway that races on Sunday nights in spring, summer and early fall.

"What other town in the country can claim all of this?" Wilson asked. "Obviously, we don't have NASCAR or Indy Car here, but what we do have are three major locally supported and operated forms of racing that greatly benefit this community.

"I don't know of any other city in the nation that can come close to us."

I think Ray may be on to something here, something our city fathers might even want to think about using as a promotional tool. Let's be honest, every town in America craves to be No. 1 in something, and this just might be Quincy's claim to fame.

Thanks for the insight, Ray.

Speaking of this week's Soap Box Derby, which will be its 14th running, Wilson provided some information that should make all Quincyans a little prouder.

Wilson said numerous other service clubs and church groups are donating both time and money in support of the Derby, especially the Super Kids.

"Where else to see something like that, this kind of cooperation between clubs?" he asked. "They all want to help support these kids, especially the Super Kids. It's amazing to me."

From the Illinois Children's Health Care Foundation donating the services of a specially prepared Winnebago to provide support for the Super Kids, to other clubs providing food and additional resources, this event has become a source of pride for the entire community.

Make an effort Friday or Saturday to come out to Bob Mays Park, if just for a few minutes, to view what has become a true spectacle of giving and gratitude.

Be proud this weekend, Quincy. Be very proud.