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"Easy" Ryder keen to continue winning roll

"Easy" Ryder keen to continue winning roll

June 24, 2005

Hurtling down a steep 300m-long track at up to 60kph in a trolley is Jarrod "Easy" Ryder's idea of fun.

The 12-year-old is about to take off for Akron, Ohio, to try and win the All-American World Championship of Soapbox Derby racing.

No foreign competitor has won the race since it started in 1934.

And the confident youngster - who won the New Zealand Derby recently - is pretty sure he can do it.

"I'm the only one who's done under 28 seconds," he says.

NZ Soapbox Derby director, Paul O'Brien, also believes Jarrod could have the talent to take the world title.

"He was about half a second faster than any of the other competitors, which is a considerable margin in the super stock class, but this time he is racing history as well as the other drivers," he says.

Soapbox derby racing is big business in the USA, with 20,000 spectators expected to turn out for the race, which also airs on the American TV sports network.

"About 500 competitors aged between eight and 16 years come to race at the historic Derby Downs track from all over the USA - and other countries including Japan and Germany - but Jarrod will definitely have travelled the furthest," says Mr O'Brien.

Jarrod will be in the minority of English speakers among the foreign contingent at the race. He also converses in sign language, as both his parents are deaf.

Although his slick green and black trolley plastered with sponsors' stickers is already on its way to Akron, Jarrod has been putting in plenty of practice in his school trolley.

He will be in Akron for seven days in total, and will take part in a motorcade and training before racing begins on the three-lane custom-built track on July 30. Jarrod also has 500 souvenir badges with his photograph on to swap with other competitors.

The young racer reckons the best thing about trolley derby racing is that it's exciting and you make "heaps of good friends" - something he's looking forward to doing in Akron too.

But Jarrod will also be delighted when the race is over, because then he'll be able to enjoy a holiday with his parents and grandparents, who are travelling with him.

Highlights will include Disneyland, Niagara Falls, and watching a live Nascar race in Indianapolis.

ENDS

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