Thursday, May 5
Clear Hazard Champion
Around 1944 a fourteen year old kid from Hazard was, for a while, the most famous young man in Kentucky. His name was E. L. Adams.
He was our All American Soapbox Derby Champion from Hazard and later went on to Louisville and became the State Champion. E.L. was three years older than me and I didn't know him at all until we began participating in the annual Soapbox races held at Cornett Hill. By the rules, E.L. designed, built, and raced his own car. I remember it very well. He built a solid, good looking car. Smooth as glass.
After four different heat races he was the clear Hazard Champion.
That was the last time I saw him and I don't really don't know why. Just like all the other kids I knew, we all eventually went out separate ways. I read in the Louisville Courier Journal that he won the Kentucky event and was on his way to the Nationals in Akron, Ohio. The competition in Akron was tough. Local champs from all the 48 states and Hawaii were there. I think Adams actually finished third overall. Which was a great achievement for a kid from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
Back in 1990 I researched Soapbox Derby records on line to verify his success. I could only find the results of the Louisville races. Later on I came across in an older gentleman who was an official during the Akron races. He had all those records in a box in his basement. He checked them out and verified what I remembered about 1944.
Months later, after things quieted down in Hazard, I was strolling down Main Street and something caught my eye in the window of a little shop next to Don's. It was a big golden globe of the World and it had a small Soapbox Racer on the top. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It turned out to be the Championship Trophy from the Kentucky finals in Louisville. It was on display for several months and every time I went to town I would stop there and marvel at that
wonderful example of teenage ingenuity.
I noticed that E.L. Adams passed away in April at age 83. Hazard may have forgotten him but I didn't.