MORRISTOWN -- Tysin Chesher drew the unenviable task of facing the defending champion in his first trip down the hill in the 2022 Derby Days soap box derby race in Morristown.
Chesher made a statement, though, with a multi-car length victory over Carter Bell and was never defeated Saturday, finishing 5-0 to collect his first Derby Days title.
As soon as his No. 6 car stopped past the finish line, Chesher jumped out of the car and was mobbed by a pack of fellow racers ready to celebrate the championship.
The 74th annual Derby Days race, originated in 1947, pitted Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts in soap box derby cars racing down the U.S. 52 hill into downtown Morristown. There were 14 boys and 14 girls racing Saturday using a double-elimination format.
While Chesher dominated the boys race, Aubrey Longwell also went undefeated in the girls race to claim her first title.
Longwell opened her racing day with a victory over Kori Palmer and she followed that with wins over Loran Austin, Emelyn Rinzel, Zoe Graves and then Rinzel once again in the championship race.
The daughter of Andy and Ashley Longwell drove her blue No. 15 car to five straight victories to become the 13th girl to claim a Derby Days title. The first girls race was in 2000 and won by Kaili Turner. There was not a girls race from 2013-2016 and in 2020.
Longwell (photo above, right) sat at the starter’s line at the top of the racing hill Saturday afternoon feeling “a little scared” before her first race. Once she found the racing speed was similar to the North St. practice hill where all the racers had to qualify for Saturday’s main event, she proved too tough to beat.
With the win, Longwell takes possession of the champions’ trophy that is taller than her.
“I’ve seen it before,” she said with a smile.
While Longwell surprised herself with her championship performance, Chesher, the son of Dustin and Mikala Chesher, was much more “confident” coming into race day.
Chesher, who had a large support crew donning Chesher Racing T-shirts, utilized good advice to be the fastest down the hill.
“They told me to sit back and lean down to get more speed,” he said.
Chesher (photo above, left) followed up his win over Bell with victories over Beckham Walton, Austin Amburgey and Jasen Tweedy to get into the championship race where he would have to be defeated twice.
Tweedy lost to Alex Anderson in the loser’s bracket championship race but could not find enough speed to knock off Chesher.
“I am so proud of myself for what I’ve done,” said Chesher.
There were 50 total races Saturday between the boys and girls brackets. As the two championship races were prepared, the north and south racing lanes were identical in terms of victories – 24 winners from the north lane and 24 winners from the south lane.
Chesher and Longwell both won their final races from the north lane.
The Derby Days celebration started Friday night in Morristown with an Adult Derby Days race on North St. won by McKinley Kile.
Saturday’s schedule included the Paul O. Goble 5K run, a downtown parade (photo), soap box derby racing and a free concert.
Planning is already underway for next year’s 75th anniversary event.