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Crackerbox Derby cars often have long lineage

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Christina Chapman-Van Yperen -
Ryan Shear, 6, was racing this year in the Grundy County Corn Festival Crackerbox Derby for the first time. His black car with neon green flames came complete with exhaust pipes and engine blower.
(Christina Chapman-Van Yperen -
Caitlin Shear, 11, of Morris, who like her brother, Ryan, was a first-time driver in the Crackerbox Derby this year, was behind the wheel in a car painted with different shades of purple and featuring butterflies. Shear and her sister, Lauren, 9, picked the colors together because Lauren plans to drive it next year.

This was Mossimo Gallo’s first year driving in the Corn Festival Crackerbox Derby, but his car has been in it for more than 40 years.

Mossimo, 6, of Morris is the seventh grandchild to drive one of the Gallo family cars in the annual event Saturday. Before the grandkids, his dad, Greg, and his two aunts drove cars all made by Mossimo grandfather, Gary.

The cars have changed over the years, and this year it had a patriotic theme with an American flag on the hood. He even wore a matching helmet.

“It was fun,” Mossimo said after his first run down the Goold Park hill with his car. Mossimo timed at 13.83 seconds for his first run.

The Crackerbox Derby is sponsored by Scout Troop 469. The derby has five classes that compete for times. Each driver drives down the Goold Park hill twice and whoever has the best time in each category wins.

This year, about 70 cars participated in the derby. For the third year, the derby had a special class of vehicles built by the troop of “Littles” of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy counties to race.

“The biggest surprise was the derby class grew to about eight more cars than we usually have,” said Stan Motter, chairman for the Crackerbox Derby. “But the plastic-wheel class was down a bit, so it balanced out.”

Caitlin Shear, 11, of Morris was also driving for the first time this year. Her car was different shades of purple and featured butterflies. Caitlin and her sister, Lauren, 9, picked the colors together because Lauren plans to drive it next year.

Caitlin’s 6-year-old brother, Ryan, was also racing this year in a black car with neon green flames, complete with exhaust pipes and engine blower.

Caitlin said she was nervous before the race, but she wrapped up the races with a time of 12.81 and made her family proud.

“You guys did a good line,” said Eric Shear, their dad, after his kids first runs.

“It’s fun to paint the cars together. It’s a fun family thing,” he said.

Caden Erickson raced for a second year in a row. After his first time, he had to do it again because he “likes to go fast,” he said.

Caden, 8, of Morris drove the same car his dad raced 30 year ago. The only difference was the paint.

After the race, Caden said it was a blast, but he already has some changes in mind for next year.

“I got to get a bigger car,” he said.

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