Sharon Fire Department hosts third Adult Soap Box Derby
SHARON — The third annual Adult Soap Box Derby, hosted by the Sharon Fire Department, will be held this Saturday, July 23 (see story this page), and Miguel Balaguero will be ready to compete — for the third year running.Balaguero, a Salisbury resident and member of the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Squad, named his entry, Pulse-Ox, after a piece of equipment used by EMTs. Actually, he will have two entries: Pulse-Ox 1 and Pulse-Ox 2. At the first derby, Balaguero placed 13th out of 25. The second year he improved on that record slightly, coming in 20th out of 38 entries. With hindsight he says he saw what could be improved on, and so has made some modifications to the original vehicle and also created a new one. In the meantime he’s also accrued a bit more mileage, having competed in the Great Barrington Soapbox Derby this past spring. “I did a lot better there. Out of 48 cars I placed 18th, with a personal best time of 70 seconds.” (The first-place finisher clocked in at 58 seconds.) “The run in GB was longer and hillier and the one in Sharon is short and twisty, but the end is flat.“The challenge is to have sufficient weight to gather the momentum so that when you hit the flat, it will carry you to the finish line,” Balaguero said. He figures the first two years — when the weight limit was 300 pounds for the vehicle, but no limit on the driver — the heavier guys had a bit of an advantage. Balaguero, who is lean and fit, thinks his odds will improve with the new weight rules.In fact, all the rules for entries are quite stringent. First and foremost, the carts cannot be made from kits and may not cost more than $300. There are specifics to be met concerning size, safety (steering and braking ability are a must) and, this year, a weight limit of 450 pounds, car and driver combined.Balaguero’s cars are basically constructed with bicycle frames and plywood. But Pulse-Ox 2 will also have suspension: motorcycle shocks from a 1975 Yamaha RD250. And brakes on all four corners. “I want to be able to stop,” he said. “If they’re only on the front, the car gets squirrely. If they’re only on the back, the car can lock up and throw you into a slide.” Balaguero confessed that the first time he did the Sharon course it was scary. “You think you’ll end up in the river. Now having done it a couple of years, it doesn’t seem so difficult.” Since he trains on Beaver Dam Road in Salisbury, which is just as twisty and has a few blind curves, chances are that this year Balaguero and Pulse-Ox 1 or 2 will be a contender. The Adult Soap Box Derby will take place at Sharon Veteran’s Field on Sharon Station Road. Registration starts at 7 a.m., race starts at 11 a.m. For more information, go to www.sharonfiredept.org.