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Some of the world's fastest youth will descend on Akron this week as the 80th First Energy All-American Soap Box Derby will return to Derby Downs.
Throughout those eight decades, Northern Summit County -- particularly Cuyahoga Falls -- has a long history of making the trip down the 989-foot track in east Akron.
That lineage will continue this year, as Cuyahoga Falls resident Zoe Kubick will make her third trip to the AASBD.
This year, Kubick will compete in the Local Super Stock division at the AASBD. A 13-year-old rising eighth-grader at Bolich Middle School, Kubick reached the big race after winning the Local Super Stock division at the Akron Metro Derby, which also took place at Derby Downs in June.
While Kurbick is the lone racer from Northern Summit County to reach the AASBD this year, she brings a wealth of experience with her. In fact, Kubick could be called a member of Summit County's first family of soap box racing.
"Mostly I just do it for my [grandfather], because it means a lot to him," Kubick said.
Kubick's grandfather and race handler is Jeff Iula, a former AASBD chairman who has seen four generations of his family involved in derby racing.
Iula has been with Kubick since the beginning of her racing career, as he has several grandchildren racing.
Iula applauds Kubick's perseverance, noting that in a career of 129 derby rally races around the county, she has never won. However, Kubick has won at the Akron Area Local derby two straight years, as she won the Stock class last season.
"I've got to give her all the credit in the world for sticking with it," Iula said. "Some kids would have gotten sick of it, but she's still loving it."
Kubick's mother, Carrie Lee, echoes her father's sentiments.
"She's just stuck in there and doing it for the fun of it," Lee said. "She's made mention that she wasn't just in it for racing, but because it's about family too."
Her daughter's sentiments are appropriate, as Lee notes there has rarely been a time her family wasn't involved in racing.
"Absolutely, it started when my dad was little and his dad was race coordinator," Lee said. "He became the derby chairman for years and had me and my sister racing. She was able to reach the All-American a couple times. I wasn't so great, but I had fun."
Lee has seen two of her daughters reach the big race, as 15-year-old Trinity Kubick has reached the AASBD in year's past.
In fact, Lee noted the Kubick sisters had to face each other at the Akron Area derby, as Zoe defeated Trinity in the semifinal round of Super Stock.
Lee noted there was no sibling strife after the race.
"[Trinity] was a pretty humble about it," Lee said. "She had gotten to the place where she was racing for fifth and sixth and was facing a rookie. She decided to forfeit the race and let him have fifth."
Lee notes there may be more competition between the siblings soon, as Zoe's 4-year-old sister Eva seems to have caught the racing bug early.
"Eva is always crawling around her sister's racers," Lee said. "She wants to get into racing and carry on the tradition."
Iula, who is an at-large councilman for the city of Cuyahoga Falls, was happy to see Falls well-represented in the Akron Metro race.
"In the Metro Super Stock class, five of the top seven kids were from Cuyahoga Falls," Iula said. "That was great to see. I knew we had a good chance of winning it."
Race week activities in Akron begin July 16, with the parade of champions and opening ceremonies taking place stepping off from Canal Park in Akron July 17 at noon.
Heats for the All-American Soap Box Derby will begin July 22 at 8:30 a.m. at Derby Downs.
Kubick won her initial heat at last year's AASBD before bowing out in the second round.
Kubick said she's looking for a few more victories this season.
"We want to win three heats, if not more," Kubick said.
Lee said she makes no predictions about her daughter's prospects this year.
"Honestly, I have no Idea," Lee said. "We weren't expecting her to fly though this year. Last year, we really pushed her a lot. This year, we just went out to have fun and all of sudden she made it."