Soap box racer on roll

Joey Payeur

The top young soap box derby racers on the planet will gather next month–and a Fort Frances resident once again will be among them.
Marie-Mai Langevin is heading back to Akron, Ohio for the 80th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship Race on July 22 after dominating the Super Stocks division at the Dakota Soap Box Derby in Valley City, N.D. on Saturday.
The 11-year-old went 14-0 in her match races, each comprised of two heats, with the winner having the best total combined time.
Langevin finished unbeaten run by winning a rematch with 16-year-old Valley City native Erin Crump in the final of the category for racers aged nine-18 by a margin of only .074 seconds.
“I felt confident as I kept winning each race,” said Langevin, who made it to the worlds previously in 2014 after prevailing in the Stocks division.
“But when I beat [Crump] in our first meeting of the day [by 0.2 seconds], I knew I beat one of the better ones there.
“But when I knew I would be facing her again in the final, I was nervous,” she admitted.
Langevin’s nerves weren’t helped when Crump, running on what was considered the slower half of the track, won the opening phase of the final by .222 seconds.
With the racers switching sides for the second phase, Langevin knew she had to draw on every bit of wisdom she had collected from the rest of her races that day.
“The key was learning the path on that slow track that was working for the other racers I had watched race before me all day,” she explained.
She proved to be an attentive student–besting Crump by .296 seconds to provide the margin of victory on what was a hot and physically taxing day.
“The food we brought was getting squishy in the heat, so I wasn’t eating as much and that made me more tired as the afternoon went on,” noted Langevin.
“I started feeling dizzy, but I drank lots of water to help and I was able to keep good concentration.”
Langevin now is counting on having been to the worlds once before as something she can use to her advantage.
“I don’t think it’s going to be very different than it was before and I know what to expect now,” she reasoned.
“With three cars racing at a time, it will be more difficult,” she conceded. “But I just have to worry about what I’m doing and work on going as straight as possible and to duck my head to stay aerodynamic.”
Langevin finished in the top 36 her first time at the worlds, but she had much bigger ambitions for her return.
“I want to finish in the top three and I think I have a good chance.”
Her younger brother, Yannick, also had a solid day in Valley City as the 10-year-old was sixth behind his sister in the Super Stocks class.
After going 0-2 last year in his rookie season in Super Stocks, Yannick posted a 5-2 record this time.
“I found it easier to find the good path on the track to run,” he remarked.
“I was bending down more in the car.
“It also helped that I had gone up against older kids the year before,” Yannick added.
“I’m racing more and I’m getting used to it more,” he noted. “I am really happy for my sister.”