The next couple of weekends are going to be a big deal in Quincy, and may I suggest making plans to be a part of the goings-on?
On Friday and Saturday, the Grand Prix of Karting returns to South Park, followed by the 14th annual Quincy Optimist Club Soap Box Derby on June 15 and 16.
For starters, let's talk a little about the Grand Prix. For many, the Grand Prix will be like the return of an old friend. The event was discontinued 17 years ago, but Terry Traeder, son of the late Gus Traeder, who founded the original event, felt it was time to resurrect this showcase of speed and community involvement.
I'd have to say Terry was correct when he felt the Quincy area was ready for its return.
The response to the rebirth of the Grand Prix has been, in a word, tremendous. You will see about 250 karters from at least 11 states.
Coupled with the guaranteed on-track excitement covering 14 different classes will see South Park transformed into a county fair type of atmosphere.
"Gus will love this," Terry said. "Dad is buried right across the street from South Park in Greenmount Cemetery ... and I know he'll be watching."
When Gus was laid to rest a couple of years ago, the funeral procession took a lap around the South Park course in his honor.
The Grand Prix was that big of a deal once upon a time, and judging by the plans that are unfolding for this year's return, it might eventually become bigger than before.
Along with all the people, tents and concessions, there will be a 2018 Indy Car on loan from Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis that will be displayed at south end of the park.
The Grand Prix also will be livestreamed on YouTube, thanks to help of a production crew from Culver-Stockton College headed by Brian Kroeger.
Yeah, the Grand Prix is going to be a big deal and should become even bigger in the years to come.
Following on the heels of the Grand Prix will be another warm-weather event the Quincy area should also be proud of -- the Soap Box Derby. The Quincy derby is now the largest in the nation outside of the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.
This year's derby will shatter its participation record, likely with more than 200 participants, including somewhere between 80 and 100 in the Special Kids division.
The Special Kids races have truly made this event -- for lack of a better word -- special. The Special Kids are those entrants who have some type of disability, and to say the community -- and sponsors -- have come to their support would be a major understatement.
It is both heartwarming and rewarding to see what they experience being a part of this marvelous event on Derby Hill near Bob Mays Park.
Both the Grand Prix of Karting and the Soap Box Derby deserve your support. Neither will cost you anything to attend except some time, and it will be time well spent.