ShareThis Page

Elliott teen brings Soapbox Derby crown back to Pittsburgh

| Monday, July 29, 2013, 3:31 a.m.
Macaila Ziolkowski

When she won the Greater Pittsburgh Soapbox Derby Stock Division title on June 16, Macaila Ziolkowski said the All-American Soapbox Derby in Akron, Ohio, might be difficult, but she would have fun.

On Saturday, Macaila, 13, of Pittsburgh's Elliott neighborhood became the first winner of the Pittsburgh race, held each Father's Day in McKeesport, to win a national title as well, topping a field of 111 Stock Division racers with five winning heats at the 76th All-American Derby.

“It's pretty amazing,” Macaila said Sunday night. “It was crazy at first but it pulled together rather nicely. I wasn't really expecting to win my first race but I did and I kept racing.”

In her first heat Saturday, Macaila's 29.68-second run topped Ryan Trapnell of Hopkinsville, Ky. and Kaya Mullen of Waynesboro, Va.

She rolled past Matthew Adkins of Portage County, Ohio, in 29.84 seconds and Isaac Parker of Morganton, N.C., in 29.80 seconds in the second and third rounds.

In the fourth round, her time of 29.71 seconds defeated fifth-place finisher Diamond Merced of Cleveland and seventh-place finisher Jacob Poggi of Silverdale, Wash. In her fifth and final heat, her time of 29.62 seconds defeated runner-up Heagan Holmes of Beaumont, Texas, and third-place finisher Lauren Zimmerman of Indianapolis.

“It was unbelievable,” Macaila's mother Heather Ziolkowski said. “You don't expect this at all. It is a very tough, tough race. It is almost like the luck of the draw.”

“It was just a magical weekend,” Macaila's father Donald Ziolkowski said. “It is so hard to win that race.”

Rounding out the top nine in the Stock Division were Kimberly Brown of Dunwoody, Ga., in fourth place, Julian Scheer of St. Louis in fifth, Aspen Tomasello of Greater Washington, D.C., in eighth and Gavin Brown of Pottstown in ninth.

Macaila won a $3,000 college scholarship, a gold ring, a trophy and championship jacket. She will receive a hand-carved replica of her car.

This is the second year she has raced with Chuck's Auto Service of White Oak as a sponsor. She was entered in the Superstock Division in her first year, and said she probably will return there next year.

Her car will remain on display in Akron, Greater Pittsburgh Soapbox Derby Association director Bryan Brain said.

“I'm so excited about what that does for our area, too,” Brain said. “It will help us promote this derby to so many more people.”

Macaila will be an eighth grader at St. Philip's School in Crafton. She said her hobbies include dirt bike riding and camping with her family.

Other winners from the McKeesport Derby who raced in Akron were Emilie Gniewkowski, 13, of North Huntingdon Township, sponsored by All Occasion Disc Jockeys, in the Super Stock Division; and Keith Morris, 10, of Monongahela, sponsored by Haunted Hills Hayride of North Versailles Township, in the Masters Division.

Four hundred and 40 racers from the United States, Canada, Japan and New Zealand raced at Akron's famed Derby Downs on Saturday, in seven divisions.

In the Stock divisions, youths ages 7-13 compete in cars built from kits with step-by-step assembly of a basic style car.

In the Super Stock divisions, youths ages 9-17 can expand their knowledge and build larger, heavier cars from kits.

In the Masters divisions, youths ages 10-17 can build a more sophisticated car.

Other winners were Bryce Volpe, 14, of Mentor, Ohio, in Super Stock; Jay Warnick, 16, of Drayden, Md., in Masters; Erin Donovan, 9, of Eagleville, Pa., in Rally Stock; Ricky Desens, 14, of Webster, N.Y., in Rally Super Stock; Melanie Kohout, 16, of Geneva, Ill., in Rally Masters; and Anne Taylor, 20, of Neligh, Neb., in Ultimate Speed, in which teams of drivers age 16-20 compete.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.