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Downhill thrills at X-Derby

Published: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

People may have ridden go-carts down steep hills before, but the X-Derby, planned for Oct. 5 in Marseilles, is a first-of-its-kind event, says co-organizer Cherise Byone.

Carts provided by Concept Haulers Motor Speedway in Norway will be ridden, with motors off, down Rutland Hill in Marseilles by high schoolers and adults who register. Each member of a team of four will be allowed two runs down the hill. They will be timed, and the top teams will be honored at a trophy presentation afterward.

Half of the proceeds raised from entry fees for the event, and from beverage sales to spectators, will be donated to the Marseilles Rotary Club Flood Recovery Fund, says Byone. Marseilles was ravaged by Illinois River flooding in April.

“So many have lost so much,” Byone said. “In working with the Rotary Club, we were able to find a way to give back (in addition to having fun).”

The X-Derby idea was vaguely conceived before such a cause was needed, Byone said. Marseilles residents David Gale and Bobby Kaminski talked about holding some kind of a soapbox-style event in their town and on its signature hill. The two are now organizing X-Derby with Byone.

“Two crazy kids who didn’t grow up. Two guys who always talked about how awesome going really fast down that hill would be,” Byone said of Gale and Kaminski.

On Sept. 10, one of the X-Derby carts was tested on Rutland Hill. Marseilles EMS Chief Don Modeen was behind the wheel for the first run.

“The first one was kind of a dud. We had brake problems. ... We didn’t really get any speed coming down,” Modeen said.

Adjustments were made on the cart, and Modeen says the second time down the hill was more exciting.

“Right before that first set of curves, well, for somebody who’s not like me – who’s normal – at that point, they would definitely pucker up and say, ‘What am I doing? What’d I get myself in to here?’ ” Modeen said. “By that last set of curves, though, you’re doing a more reasonable 28 to 30 miles per hour. It’s a different experience.”

Byone says that entries will be capped at a “certain number.” Adults who do not sign up but are in Marseilles on Oct. 5 can participate in an open run that will be held following the team portion.

Refreshments will be served in a beverage tent at the bottom of the hill. There will also be activities for children at Knudson Park and a bicycle show held in conjunction with X-Derby, offering options for those who are not looking for a thrill.

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