CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ayva David, 11, had some butterflies fluttering before going down the hill during the final race of the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships.
“I’m just trying to calm myself down because I know that there is a big chance I can win it,” David told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “I also know there’s a big chance I couldn’t. Either way, I was happy. It was exciting.”
David won the race in a photo finish in Akron, Ohio, to bring the Local Division title back home to Clearwater.
To go fast in a soap box derby car, the driver has to get low in the tiny car.
“You do have to be a little flexible because you have to get down,” David said. “If you aren’t straight down in your car, then the wind will push you, and you’ll be slower than the other cars.”
“We are running on gravity, so the lower in the car you can get, the faster you’re going to go down the hill,” her coach Mark Ferdinand added.
Derby racing dates back to 1934. David is only the fourth driver from Florida to become a champion in the local division and the first from the Tampa Bay region.
“For someone from Clearwater, it is a big deal,” Ferdinand said. “Clearwater isn’t really a hotbed of soap box derby racing here in the states. I was a past world champion. I got her involved a few years ago.”
David qualified for the world championships by winning her local title in Ocala.
“(Ferdinand) built my car; he teaches me how to drive the line,” David said. “Without that, I probably would not be as good of a driver as I am now.”
Now, she has a championship ring, gold jacket, a scholarship, and a massive trophy that needed special accommodations to get home.
“We flew it on the plane, and it was with the pilots,” she said.