Little racers show speed skills in Queens competition

Levon Bellamy Jr. of Long Island City shines his car before the start of the time trials. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Howard Koplowitz

An East Elmhurst boy came out on top during Saturday’s 27th-annual Flushing Meadows Soap Box Derby and advanced to the national competition in Akron, Ohio.

Racers barreled down 23rd Avenue between 92nd and 94th streets at speeds topping 20 miles an hour, with 13-year-old Zachery Lynch taking the title.

“It’s like having fun going down the hill,” said Zachery, who also came in first in the 2008 version of the race. “It’s like riding a bike except faster.”

Zachery’s 87-year-old grandmother, Mary Moody, cheered him on by dancing and clapping her hands after he won one of his heats.

“The thrill of my life,” was how Moody described the race. “I’m the one who was rooting him on. That is my heart.”

There was a brief stop in the action after one of the boys veered off the course before breaking hard into the median and crashing near a tree, although he did not sustain any injuries.

Micheal Kennedy, 10, said the race is “very fun and scary at the same time.

“I like the way it’s very fun to go down the hill,” he said. “I like it because it’s so fast.”

The cars, which the kids built themselves, were painted in a variety of colors and sponsored by local companies and organizations, such as the Ozone Park Kiwanis Club, Domino’s Pizza and Auto Body by Victor.

Yazmine Baptiste, a 12-year-old from Rosedale, has been competing in the derby for four years.

“It’s like going in a race car,” she said. “You’re actually controlling it. It’s fun to go down the hill and race other people.”

Joseph Migliaccio, 10, of Howard Beach, said the race gives him an adrenaline rush.

“When you start, it gets me pumped up and it gets me excited,” he said. “When I finish the race, I’m happy I finished the race.”

Corrine Warner, 10, of Jackson Heights, came in first place in her division last year and said the East Elmhurst hill pales in comparison to the track in Akron.

“The hill is much bigger than this,” she said. “It’s scary, but fun.”

Joshua Porto, 10, of East Elmhurst, said he was “going to do my best to win.

“I heard there’s a lot of cash to it,” he joked of the race. “We get fame. And also glory. And also lots of cash. It could be hundreds, thousands or millions.”

There were no cash prizes.

The All-American Soap Box Derby is being held July 23 in Akron.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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