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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 23, 2011
Burdgick returns to Akron following Super Stock title
By Jordan J. Michael
GUILDERLAND He took a year off. Then, he came back and won the Capital District Soap Box Derby, again.
Cameron Burdgick, 10, of Guilderland, is becoming a veteran of the Soap Box circuit. After winning the Stock Division in 2009 at the age of 8, Burdgick came back in 2011 to capture the title in the Super Stock Division. He’ll make his second appearance in Akron, Ohio for the world championships on July 23.
This week, Burdgick said that he took 2010 off to do “other things,” but also because his sister, Ally, races. The task of building two separate cars in 2009 took a toll on the Burdgick family.
“It’s hard to be working on two cars at once,” Burdgick said, mentioning that his car took a few months to build. “Ally took this year off. It’s hard.”
Burdgick builds his cars to replicate the jerseys worn by the New York Yankees, his favorite baseball team. Burdgick rode with pinstripes in 2009, but went with gray and blue for this year, matching the Yankees’ away sweater. His favorite player is Derek Jeter.
“We work on the car in the basement whenever we have time,” said Burdgick. “It’s fun.”
Burdgick is also an avid baseball player, but sees the differences. “When I race, I’m by myself in my car,” he said. “With baseball, I’m part of a full team.”
The Capital District race on June 12 had 38 drivers in three different divisions with ages ranging from 8 to 17 years old. Ginger Miller, the race director, said that division winners get “expenses paid” trips to Akron for them and their families. The Derby has 25 different sponsors.
“We pay for their transportation and board,” Miller said. “It takes about $700 to build a car, but the kids almost always get sponsorship because the companies like to see their name on the cars. There’s only one Soap Box Derby.”
Miller has been running the Capital District Derby since 2006 and she said that the annual race in Albany costs $8,000 to run. There was a time when Miller had only a few sponsors.
“They’re a huge help,” said Miller of the sponsors. “I devote all of my time to something I don’t get paid for. But, it’s a great joy and rewarding for me. These kids get to build, paint, compete, and enjoy the excitement of racing.”
Miller said that a lot of orphans get involved with the Derby. “We buy cars for them,” she said.
No matter which kids win or lose, the main thing that the Derby does is get families to work together, Miller said. The entire family is involved with the project and usually the family is the pit-crew for the child.
“Everyone really works together,” said Miller. “It’s getting the kids off the computer and leading them to a place of interaction. It brings back the old times; where kids are just kids.”
When Cameron Burdgick goes to Akron where the Soap Box Derby world championships have been held since 1934, he has a chance at a $5,000 scholarship, but he’ll have to win five separate heats.
“I loved it,” Burdgick said of his first trip to Akron. “It was amazing. We did something different every day.”
Burdgick is excited to race, but he’s hoping to get VIP advantages after he disembarks on Akron. Upon arrival, officials thoroughly inspect the car and, if everything is right, the driver receives VIP status.
“We’ll check everything before we leave; the whole car,” Burdgick said. “I’m not worried.”
Before each Soap Box race, Burdgick said that he looks at the track to determine which lane is best to drive in. “I try to get my head as low as I can while still being able to see,” he said.
Burdgick, who Miller says is a “very intelligent boy,” has many years of Derby racing left ahead. He’s eligible to move up to the Masters Division in 2012. Then, he’ll be racing against his sister if she decides to return to the track.
“It’s really fun to go down hill in a car,” said Burdgick. “I get butterflies in my stomach sometimes because I don’t know what will happen.”