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Letting the good times roll in Maple

It could’ve been a scene right out of a Simpsons episode.

On Saturday, dozens of people descended on the stretch of Major Mackenzie Dr. between Keele St. and Eagle Rock Way to watch kids race their home-built cars in fierce competition at the Great Maple Cart Derby.

“It’s for families to spend time working on a project and have a goal at the end of it, which is to build a car and race it,” says Detective Constable Garry Vosburg, founder and chairman of the derby.

Twenty-five racers competed in four divisions as 100 people looked on, said Vosburg, who summed it up by saying “race day went very well”.

“We had the Knights of Columbus out there doing a barbecue for us,” he said on Wednesday. “The fire department came by and police officers – they were supposed to be doing the road block, but they ended up coming down and watching the race.”

In the interest of fairness, the four racing divisions – G, M, C and D – were divided by age so that, as Vosburg put it, “8 year olds aren’t racing against 14 year olds”. Though age is the only decreed separation among racers, one of the four groups proved uniquely exclusive, he said.

“The M category, by the way, was all female,” Vosburg said. “We do have girls that are interested.”

This year’s derby marks the third year the rubber has hit the road, but it started a year before that. Four years ago, Vosburg was looking for something fun he could organize and that kids could enjoy with their families.

“I had been a boy scout when I was a kid and we used to hold soapbox races down at Centennial Park in Etobicoke where I grew up,” he said. “A light bulb went off one day when I remembered doing that and I thought it would be a good thing to do.”

The carts themselves, which are supposed to be built by the kids with help from parents, generally take about 20 hours to put together, Vosburg said, and can cost as little as $100. Donations are solicited from companies, he added.

“I take the money and buy materials, and then provide the materials to organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Girls Incorporated, that kind of thing,” he said. “They then provide materials to families that wouldn’t necessarily have the means to purchase them themselves, and then they build the cars.”

The fun, though, wasn’t left entirely to the kids and their families. Grown-ups, including Regional Councillor Mario Ferri, got involved in the action too.

“We had a politician, a member of the media, one of our sponsors and the police department all race off against each other,” Vosburg said. “Mario Ferri came in dead last, but it was all for the fun of the thing.”

Vaughan Today
Friday, September 21, 2007
Page: 10
Byline: Philip Alves