April 26, 2006
Ingenuity, not engines needed to win Downhill Derby
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—On April 29, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s Downhill Derby will showcase daring drivers, devoted fans and a fight to the finish between flashy, corporate-sponsored cars.
But this rumble won’t start with the grumble of monster engines. Racers will rely on plain old momentum to power their cars down a sloping stretch of Riverside Drive in Jackson.
“Think of it as NASCAR without the noise,” jokes Mark Adams of Madison, president and chief executive officer at Methodist. “In gravity car racing, drivers depend on ingenuity—not engines—to win.”
The event raises funds for the Andrew Jackson Council of the Boy Scouts, and gives local troop members the chance to act like junior Jeff Gordons. They’ll race homespun speedsters made of two-by-fours and lawn mower wheels in a series of division races that begin at 8:30 a.m.
At 10:30 a.m., the scouts will take a break to watch the Corporate Challenge, a face-off between sleek Soap Box Derby style cars sponsored by local businesses.
Horne LLP beat everyone to the bottom line in the last challenge, and company CPA David Williams predicts a bullish performance for 2006. "Our car is faster than a calculator on April 15," he said.
Troop 29 from Brandon, the only Boy Scout group to field a car in the Corporate Challenge, also is hoping for an impressive finish this go-round. “Last time, we needed some jet engines,” said Scoutmaster Stan Kynerd, an attorney with Pruet Oil in Jackson, which also fielded a car in the race. “But all that really matters is that everybody had a good time. I had several boys from my troop driving cars and they loved it.”
In addition to the racing action, the event will feature a Black Hawk helicopter, a military Humvee, a Velcro Wall, an inflatable obstacle course and a fire engine from the Jackson Fire Department. Refreshments will be on sale throughout the day and all proceeds will benefit Boy Scout programs, such as career education in the schools, career mentoring, urban camping scholarships and outreach scout units.
“The last derby raised $20,000 for the Andrew Jackson Council, and we’re hoping for a good showing again this year,” Adams said. “It’s truly the type of event that the whole family can enjoy.”
Downhill Derby action will continue from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and the event is free to spectators. Boy Scouts interested in competing in the derby can call 601-948-6111. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities can call 601-421-0001.
Methodist Rehabilitation Center's Downhill Derby--a benefit for the Andrew Jackson Council of Boy Scouts--is set for Saturday, April 29. The first Downhill Derby in 2004 drew hundreds of racers and onlookers to Riverside Drive in Jackson.
Harrison Lang, the driver of The Horne Group car, prepares to race down Riverside Drive in Jackson. The Horne Group car was the first place winner of the corporate car division in last year's Downhill Derby.