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All-American Soap Box Derby Racer Started as Extra in '25 Hill'

Christian Viering will race with a ribbon to remember the eight people killed in Copley last August every time he races.

Before every race, Christian Viering shimmies into his derby stock car with a little help from his mother Lisa.

She bends over Christian, finishes tucking him in and says, "This is your race, this is your day. If you want it, you have to do it," and kisses his back.

Then, it's go time.

”It almost feels like my heart skips beats every two seconds."

Christian Viering is a seventh-grade student at and has been racing his stock car for about a year and a half. He became interested in the Soap Box Derby when Corbin Bernsen came to Akron to film 25 Hill, a movie about the All-American Soap Box Derby.

Christian and his mother were extras in the movie.

"The first time he sat in one of those cars, he just gave me this look," Lisa Viering smiled. "It was one of those looks where I knew I had to move mountains so that he could do this."

The first First Place

In September 2010, Christian and his mother started working hard on building and re-building his car and he's brought home 10 first-place prizes.

"All my other friends had won first-place prizes, and when I won my first one, I thought, 'So this is what it feels like,'" Christian said. "It was exciting and it made me feel really happy."

To make it to the All-American Soap Box Derby, drivers have to earn 180 points and they earn them from winning races. Christian earned 185 points and will race on July 21 against more than 100 competitors in the stock car division.

A blanket and a ribbon

The track is 989 feet long and it takes about 29 seconds to travel it if the driver isn't racing. Each car has to weigh a certain amount with the driver in it, according to the rules, and each driver is allowed 4 pounds of leeway (under or over the weight).

Besides the necessary nuts and bolts, Christian has two extra things in his car: a childhood blanket and a commemorative ribbon remembering the victims of last year's Copley shootings that left eight people dead.

"I keep my baby blanket rolled up in there," Christian smiled. "It's been in there ever since my first race."

Duct Tape and shoes

For double the good luck, Christian wears the same shoes he's worn since the beginning. The racers have to wear very light shoes to feel the brake, and Christian wears water shoes that are held together with duct tape.

When Christian gets in his little red and black car, he's also getting in the zone.

"I don't know what I'm thinking when I go down that track," Christian said. "It almost feels like my heart skips beats every two seconds. You just push yourself to the finish. It feels weird to have that feeling, but it's also a good feeling."

Bonding time with mom

Lisa Viering said she wouldn't trade the time this sport has allowed her to spend with her son for anything.

"This isn't a sport where you can just drop your kid off and leave," she said. "You have to stay and you have to help them through. The bonding time is just wonderful."

When Christian brought home his first win, it was an emotional moment for Lisa Viering.

"Christian is borderline ADD/ADHD," Viering said. "The focus you have to develop for this sport is just incredible. Before this he was a C and D (grade) student. Now he's almost straight A's. It's been wonderful."

Christian enjoys the sport for the camaraderie.

"It's really competitive," Christian said. "But I've made a lot of friends and that rivalry doesn't really exist."

Super Kids Division

Besides racing his own car, Christian is also a driver in the Super Kids division for the physically and mentally handicapped. He sits in the car, which is bigger than regular Soap Box cars, and steers the rider to the finish line.

"It's a really cool experience," Christian said of racing. "It's a sport that is really exciting. You just go and you feel like you're never going to stop, just like the Energizer bunny."

Tammie July 16, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Way to go Christian! We are so proud of you :) Love the Gongawares. Your Derby family
Kelly Powell October 20, 2012 at 01:01 AM
You have made me so proud Christian ! Dad!
Christian Viering December 12, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Christian himself : I ONLY NEED ONE MORE POINT TO MK THE 2013 ALL AMERICAN IN JULY!!! I AM SO EXCITED.
Christian Viering February 01, 2013 at 01:20 AM
1/31/2013 Can't wait till my next outdoor rally !!!!
Christian Viering February 01, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Thank you Mrs.Gongaware!!!
Christian Viering February 22, 2013 at 12:47 PM
One more race and I qualify for the 76 manual all. American soapbox Derby in July
Christian Viering February 22, 2013 at 12:47 PM
One more race and I qualify for the 76 manual all. American soapbox Derby in July
Christian Viering February 25, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Can't wait for all American.

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