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S'side hardware store employees hope to Ace soapbox derby races

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Michele Williams will be racing for the first time in the adult division this year. Williams, 15, has picked up the name speed demon.

One of the regulars at the annual City of Sunnyside soapbox derby is the crew from the local Ace Hardware store.

This year will be no exception, as Ace will have two of its premiere drivers behind the wheel on Saturday, July 2. The soapbox derby is held in conjunction with the community's Fourth of July celebration.

Representing Ace Hardware this year behind the wheel will be 10-year-old Marissa Boob and 15-year-old Michele Williams.

Williams, who has earned the nickname speed demon, will be participating in the adult division of the race for the first time.

"I love going down the hill," smiled Williams. "I love speed," noting that she has been clocked as fast as 22 miles per hour.

Williams has several first and second place finishes in the race, with her worst showing being a fourth place finish.

Williams became involved with the derby five years ago through her mom, Denise, who works at Ace Postal.

Being a veteran of the soapbox derby circuit, Williams no longer has to do the practice runs to ready herself for the race.

"Now, I am kind of used to it," said Williams. "Once I get down (the hill) I get all excited. My heart starts pounding. Part of the fun is seeing how fast it goes."

Boob has been a part of the annual soapbox derby race for three years. She became involved with the race through her mom, Sherrie, who works at Ace Hardware.

"When you are going down the hill you go fast," said Boob. "It is exciting."

Boob has a number of second place finishes to her credit.

Boob said she still tries to take advantage of the practice runs the Sunnyside Recreation Department offers prior to the race.

Boob said she plans to continue being involved in the race for several more years because it is something she enjoys doing.

Ace Hardware's Sal Guillen said his store became involved with the soapbox derby when former Sunnyside City Councilman Don Vlieger asked Ace to field a team. Guillen oversees the soapbox derby participants that Ace Hardware sponsors.

"From there on it just took off," said Guillen.

Guillen said over the years it has not just been the children of employees that have taken part in the race. Guillen, himself has raced three or four times over the years, winning the adult division once.

"If you have never tried it (racing), you should," said Guillen. "It is fun."

The initial year Ace Hardware participated in the soapbox derby, Guillen put together a model that came packaged. But over the last few years, Guillen has built the cars from scratch.

"Any more, it comes real easy," said Guillen.

Guillen said he designs the vehicles first to come up with a shape he wants and then pieces it together. Guillen said the soapbox vehicles are easy to put together, usually taking about five to six hours.

Guillen said he enjoys having his store participate in the soapbox derby as a group. Guillen added that it is nice for the employees to be able to get together for a few hours and forget about other issues and just have some fun.

There will be a practice run this Saturday, June 25, at 11:30 a.m. for participants in this year's soapbox derby. The practice run will be at the Grant Avenue site, next to Central Park. Safety checks will begin at 10:30 a.m.

The actual soapbox derby will be held Saturday, July 2, at 10 a.m.

Registrations are still be accepted for the race at the Sunnyside Recreation Department. For more information, call 837-8660.

"Hopefully, we'll get more people out there," said Guillen.

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