The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Jaden Martinez wins Soap Box Derby

He qualifies to compete in July at national race.


Correspondent Christopher Cook

Jaden Martinez preps for his finals race with Riley Little.

CLOVIS — No hill? No problem for the Soap Box Derby organizers and competitors Saturday on Sycamore Street, as the 16th running of Clovis Soap Box Derby by Yucca Middle School was a success.

The winner, Jaden Martinez, was excited about his opportunity to travel to Akron, Ohio in July for the national derby.

"I'm just happy that I get to represent New Mexico in the race," Martinez said.

When he realized he won, Martinez said he thanked everyone around for the trophy and told (Riley Little), "the second place winner, good race!"

His family celebrated his win along with Father's Day after the races on Saturday.

Riley Little, 12, who placed second in the race, was also inspired to participate by her older brother, Cody Little. Riley said she was excited to win second so that she could still compete next year. Champions are ineligible for future competitions under local rules, and anybody can race up to age 17.

Riley and her family planned going out to dinner to celebrate her success and her grandmother's birthday.

The derby has been home to two Bryant family champions and Brayden Bryant, 12, attempted to uphold the 15-year family legacy.

"It's really fun and it gives me something to do," said Brayden, who finished second. He's hopeful he can be Akron-bound next year.

Brayden said he got into the soapbox derby because his sister competed and won. Her win allowed the family to take a trip to Akron, Ohio to attend the national competition.

The Bryants also had an uncle who competed and won the race as well.

The family chimed in, saying winning or losing the race is a catch-22 — good because you get the Akron experience, and bad because you're done with the Clovis race.

Brayden would not give his "top secret strategy" away on how to be successful in the race as it is a family secret passed on through competitors.

Another competitor, Nehemiah Montano, 9, said he had a strategy as well for his first year in the race. His strategy was effective because he received third place in the race.

"My big brother taught me to keep my eye on the cones," Nehemiah said. Raising your head can tend to slow down the momentum, he said.

He got help from a family friend to build his car and it did not take the pair long to build his vessel.

"It's fun, but I need to keep my head in the game ... I am going to use (the other competitors') strategy against them," Montano said.

Jalisa Raney, 9, another competitor, said her goal is to do well but not win this year so she can keep competing, at least for a few years.

She rode in her older brother Dillon's soapbox car because he had broken an arm and could not compete.

Jalisa was not a fan of her brother's choice of decor for the car: Blue racing flames. She hopes to get a new wrap and redecorate in future years.

Organizers say 2017, with 24 races, is the biggest race they have seen in Clovis since the Soapbox Derby began in 2002.


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