A former Soap Box Derby champion reflects on how the derby has strengthened his relationship with his stepfather.

COLUMBIA - Each year Columbia hosts an annual Soap Box Derby. The event offers kids the opportunity to race down Broadway with a chance to win and go to the championships in Akron, Ohio.

Thirty-nine racers, ranging in ages from 7 to 18, participated in last Sunday's race. This specific derby has deep-roots in Columbia's history, as the race has taken place on-and-off since the 1930s.  

Clayton Sibit is one of those racers.

"They're really fun," Sibit said. "And they're free so everyone should come and watch. I won last year."

The event doesn't just offer kids the opportunity to compete; it gives them a chance to bond with their families.

This was the case for former champion Jordan Weltha and his stepdad, Chuck Boots.

"I did it alongside my mom's boyfriend at the time," Weltha said. "It was just kind of a bonding thing for us."

Sometimes the bond between a stepdad and a stepson can be a complicated one, but that was not the case for Weltha and Boots.

"I think with him not being my real dad, he kind of stepped in and gave me something like a hobby that we could do together," Weltha said.

Boots says the relationships that are formed are one of the best parts of the sport.

"I think it brings a lot of family values and makes a family more close knit," Boots said. "You meet a lot of close friends that you have that are friends forever."

The bonds formed continue after the racing is finished. Weltha hasn't raced in a couple of years but Boots thinks their relationship wouldn't be as strong without the derby.

"We're pretty close, Jordan and I," Boots said. "I feel like he talks to me about things, that if we hadn't done this and become this close, he probably wouldn't have."

The tradition of racing spans generations as Boots now has grandkids racing in the derby. He hopes to help them win the same way he helped Weltha in the past.

Recommended for you