Breidablik Bear racing for gold

Anthony Poggi will make his third trip to Akron, Ohio to compete in All-American Soap Box Derby Championship

POULSBO — Anthony Poggi can’t play team sports or ride his dirt bike right now.

With an upper and lower sprain in his right leg, he is relying on crutches to get around.

Despite the injury, however, this 11-year-old Breidablik Elementary student is still a local champion and could soon be a national champion.

Anthony won the Super Stock Division of the Kitsap Soap Box Derby local championship June 3 in Poulsbo. The win sends him to Akron, Ohio for the 75th All-American Soap Box Derby July 21.

“He can’t play baseball, but he can drive,” Dave Poggi, Anthony’s father, said. “By God, he can drive.”

Also traveling to Akron from Kitsap is Bryanna Barry of Bremerton. Bryanna, 10, took first in the Stock Division.

Anthony and Bryanna will join more than 500 other qualifiers from five countries.

Racers compete in either Stock, Super Stock, Masters or Ultimate Speed divisions. Participants become eligible by competing in local championships. They have a shot at a share of $45,000 in college scholarships. First-place finishers at the derby in each division receive a $5,000 Goodyear Champion’s Scholarship.

In 2010, Anthony won Kitsap’s first trophy at the 73rd All-American Derby. He crossed the finish line at No. 8 out of 125 in the Stock Division.

This year’s competition will be different for Anthony. He competes in Super Stock, which features a heavier class of cars — stock racing has a 200-pound weight limit — and requires drivers to be at least 10. He needs to concentrate and think about the track and how to drive it in order to be successful, he said.

The Kitsap derby races are held on Dauntless Drive in Poulsbo, across from College Marketplace. Racers get up to about 20 mph.

Competition in the Super Stock Division was tough this year, Anthony said. Both Jaimie Barry and Josh Monette were on his heels — Barry took second and Monette third in the local championship. However, barring a disqualification, Anthony would be headed to Akron regardless of his placement in the championships June 3. He finished with 165 rally points, enough to advance to Akron.

Compared to Dauntless Drive, the Akron track is longer — 953.75 feet — and more steep. It’s a straight track, unlike Dauntless, which has a left curve before the finish line. Racers can get up to about 30 mph.

The Akron track features three racing lanes. However, there is something about lane 2 that makes it less than ideal. Anthony said lane 2 is commonly slower than lanes 1 and 3. It’s random which lane a racer is in. There are five heats for each division.

Since this is his third trip to Akron, Anthony hopes to do better than the last two years. He will walk the track and, like all racers, take a few practice runs.

The trip to Akron is costly. With his entire family going — dad Dave, mom Kim and brother Jake — it will cost upwards of $5,000. To help offset some of the cost, Anthony will fundraise. A few ideas: asking family members with businesses to sponsor his car, and do yard work and clean cars for donations. Right now his father’s company, TMF — a manufacturing company specializing in computer-aided design equipment — is Anthony’s only sponsor.

Anthony began racing after a friend recommended it to him. Since then, he has encouraged friends and classmates to try it.

The Poggi family is dedicated to derby racing, to say the least. They purchased a full-size trailer, which can hold six cars, just for transporting the derby cars. Anthony’s brother, Jake, 7, also competes. In fact, depending on how a racer does down in Salem, Ore., Jake will also compete in Akron. Jake will find out Sunday if he will be in the championships.

Although Anthony was able to make the 75th All-American Soap Box Derby with an injured leg, he should be heading into the championships in full strength. Kim Poggi said he should be out of his boot and crutches by the time they head to Akron.

Not long after he returns from Akron, Anthony will celebrate his 12th birthday. If all goes well, he will be earning himself an early present at the races.

Results from the race on Dauntless Drive, Poulsbo

Stock Division

1, Bryanna Barry; 2, Madison Gregerson; 3, Brian Bosch; 4, Katie Stuart; 5, Ben Walters; 6, Alex Martin; 7, Ryan Vorpahl; 8, Trevor Martin.

Super Stock Division

1, Anthony Poggi; 2, Jaimie Barry; 3, Josh Monette; 4, Anthony Luchini; 5, Hannah Welzbacker; 6, Gage Mayer; 7, Justin Mottner; 8, Blake Golden.