HOULTON, Maine — An 11-year-old girl from Hampden who has raced for several years as part of the Northern Maine Soap Box Derby Club was recently crowned the All-American Soap Box Derby Super Stock Champion and was honored for her efforts in Houlton.
Mallory Bruen won the Super Stock division Saturday, July 16, in Akron, Ohio, beating out a field of more than 100 racers through a series of five races. To celebrate the occasion, a parade and reception was held Sunday at the John A. Millar Civic Center in Houlton for the Bruen family. Mallory is believed to be the first racer from the Northern Maine Soap Box Derby to win a national title in the group’s 20-year existence.
Her accomplishment was all the more impressive as she was runner-up in the regional race in Houlton June 18, coming in second to Sara Heath in the Super Stock Division. But when Heath decided she could not make the 1,928-mile round trip to Akron, Bruen took the opportunity and rolled with it.
The Northern Maine Soap Box Derby is the only club in Maine and gets drivers from across the state traveling to Houlton to compete each June in the regional races.
Bruen already has an impressive resume of racing accolades. She raced in 2013 in the stock division in Houlton and came in fourth when she was just 8 years old. She also received the Committee Award. Later in the fall she competed in the Stock Rally “Aimee’s Race,” earning enough points to qualify for a trip to Akron in the 2014 Stock Rally. She did not place at that event, but gained valuable experience.
In 2014 she raced again in Houlton, placing fourth in the stock division; and in 2015, at the age of 10, she was runner-up in the local super stock division and received the award for best decorated car.
The Bruen family has formed several strong relationships with other racing families in Houlton, and were quick to jump on the phone and share the news when Mallory won.
Houlton Town Manager Butch Asselin unveiled a banner that will be displayed inside the civic center, featuring a photo of Mallory standing next to her derby car.
“You have helped put Houlton on the map,” Asselin said. “We are very proud of that and proud of you. Your name will always be remembered here in Houlton.”
The Bruen family has made four trips to Ohio to compete in races, as Mallory’s older brother Chris twice qualified for the Akron championships.
Trisha Bruen said the family wanted to hold the recognition ceremony in Houlton instead of their hometown because they were friends with so many of the other racers in the local area and wanted to share that excitement with them.
“There are no racers down in Hampden,” Trisha said. “Our racing family is here in Houlton since 2011, so it made sense to do it here.”
Mallory said having already been to Akron once before helped her be better prepared for racing this time around and she was thrilled to learn she had an opportunity to represent the Northern Maine Soap Box Derby Club.