On Sunday, her hometown showed how quickly it could put together a champion’s welcome.
As the Fox family arrived in Washington County from their week in Ohio, they received an escort from Hancock Police Chief T.J. Buskirk into Hancock and a parade through town to Widmeyer Park as the champ rode with her trophy in an antique fire pumper driven by the mayor.
“It’s just a feel-good moment for our town” and the Fox family, Mayor Dan Murphy said. “It’s a real good day here in Hancock.”
Emily, 13, earned her entry in the international competition with a win in Hancock’s June 4 soapbox derby, said Hancock Town Councilman Tim Smith, who started the local derby two years ago as president of Hancock in Motion. Emily’s father, Scott Fox, took over as director of the local soapbox derby a year ago.
At the Ohio competition, Emily won in the superstock division, which is for ages 11 and older.
The race goes downhill about 900 feet, powered by gravity, since the cars have no engines, but are equipped with a push brake, Scott Fox said.
Emily and her family spent the past week in Akron as Emily got her pickle-themed car ready for Saturday’s race. Her mother, Tammy Fox, and her brother, Garrett, 11, also went on the trip.
After several must-win heats, Emily faced a youth from Newport, R.I., and another from Kansas City, Mo., in the superstock division’s championship race. She won with a time of 29.54 seconds, according to the organization’s website at www.aasbd.org.
Most of her heats were close, including the championship, Emily said.
Emily said a Saturday morning rain helped her, as she was to race her first contest in lane 2.
“Everyone says (it’s) the slow lane unless it rains. So we were praying for rain and it rained,” Emily said.
As superstock champion, Emily said she receives a $3,000 scholarship, a ring, a “world champion” jacket, and a big trophy that she still has to figure out where to put.
She also will get to ride in a Goodyear blimp at next year’s championship.
Emily said she expects to compete in the master’s division next year and will need a different model car for that race.
She left “the pickle” in Akron because the championship car goes on display for a year.
Emily, who will be an eighth-grader at Hancock Middle-Senior High in August, raised the money for her estimated $600 soapbox car by doing odd jobs around the house and asking for money for Christmas, she said.
She and her family assembled the car in their basement.
With the pickle theme, Emily wrote to Mount Olive, which sent her T-shirts, magnets and wristbands to toss to the crowd during the welcoming ceremony in Akron, Fox family members said.
Emily said she wasn’t interested in soapbox racing at first.
“I watched a race in Frederick (Md.) and I wanted nothing to do with it,” Emily said. “And my parents forced me into a car. And then it turned out that I liked it.”
“I like going to all the rallies with your friends. You meet a lot of people,” she said.
Also making the trip to Akron was Colton Souders of Hancock, who won Hancock’s stock division. In Akron, he lost in his first round race to a car that finished fourth, Scott Fox said.
Smith and Murphy organized the impromptu celebration, including the pumper truck, which belongs to Murphy.
“I’m excited because when I tried to get this thing started, a lot of people told me ‘You know that’s a lot of money for parents to come up with. I don’t think that’s a sport for around here,’” Smith said.
But Smith said he decided to give it a try.
“This is what we need for the kids around here,” Smith said.
Smith said the soapbox derby race also has the support of local businesses and organizations like AC&T and Hancock Rotary.