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Waters finishes among top 18 in the world for soapbox derby racing
Emma and her dad, Marky Waters, with her derby car.
Emma and her dad, Marky Waters, with her derby car.

Emma Waters and her car, which is “powered by pixie dust”, finished in the top 18 in the world at the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship in Akron, Ohio. 

Waters, 20, is the 2022 Southeast Georgia Local Masters Champion but was able to compete on a larger scale in Ohio with 34 other Local Masters Champions from all over the country in July 2022. There are two areas of champions: Local and Rally. There are three divisions in each of these areas: Stock, Super Stock, and Masters.

Waters, the daughter of Marky and Tracy Waters of Mendes, first entered a soap box derby race when she was sixteen. She was preparing to participate in Miss Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby and wanted to learn as much as she could beforehand to be prepared for the interview portion of the pageant. 

“I went on to win the title of Teen Miss that year. I was drawn in by the family atmosphere, but when I went down the hill in Parton Park during my first appearance as 2018 Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby, I was hooked. I loved it and started racing right away,” Waters said. 

A soapbox car can be purchased in a kit and assembled by each individual racer or racing team. Many people buy used parts to save money, but each car is built along specific guidelines. 

Waters’s first soapbox car was built by her mom with some help from their friends in Lyons. Many people choose to wrap, paint, or add decals to their car. Waters’s car was painted in navy blue with a white racing stripe down the middle, with her slogan “powered by pixie dust” and a logo designed by her friend, Carly Coleman. 

These small cars do not contain a motor and simply rely on the power of gravity, reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour. The cars begin at the top of a hill and gain momentum and speed as they are pulled by gravity. Weights are added in order to get each car to approximately the same weight. 

“Soapbox Derby feels like a family to me. While many racers can be competitive, including myself, overall everyone encourages and cheers for each other. I have been so loved, supported, and welcomed in my four years of racing through winning and losing. I have gotten to know so many sweet friends through racing, and I have gained an extra family in my time participating in derby. It has also been something me and my family could do together and go spend Saturdays in Parton Park, napping in the hammock and carrying heavy cars all day,” Waters said. 

One of Waters’s favorite events sponsored by Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby (and other regions) is called Super Kids. The National Super Kids Classic is a Soap Box Derby race for physically and mentally challenged children from around the world. Local races are held throughout the year. Winners from each local race advance to the world-famous Derby Downs Track in Akron, Ohio for the world championship, which is held in conjunction with the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby Race. This event is hosted in Lyons typically in the month of May. 

“It would be awesome to see more participants at the event. I encourage people to head to Lyons and watch some races. They are typically held on Saturday and Sunday,” Waters said. 

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Waters grew up in Mendes but currently resides in Statesboro. She is a junior at Georgia Southern University, where she is studying Psychology. She was a member of the Disney College Program for a year.