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July 2, 2009

Camosun's Visionaries Canary Derby team.

Standing – Zac Brown, Andrew Johnson, Colin Polonenko, Spencer Griffin, Steve Fawkes
Sitting – Don Sproul, Jeffrey Stephen (Instructor), Imtehaze Heerah (Instructor)

Mechanical Engineering Technology students and faculty poured heart and soul into the design and manufacture of their custom-build soapbox derby car, for entry into the annual Canary Soapbox Derby, held Sunday June 28 in the Vancouver Island Technology Park. This year’s event raised $129,000 for cancer research.

After placing 3rd last year, the Camosun team was determined to come out on top in this year’s race. The team created a sleek new design, completely enclosed with no windows. Small cameras attached to the exterior of the car fed navigational information to special glasses worn by the pilot. The innovative use of this technology explains the team’s name: “The Visionaries.”
The full race involved six heats, with instructors Imtehaze Herah and Jeff Stephen alternating the role of pilot. The team’s hopes were almost dashed in the second heat, when the brakes locked up, causing damage to the two rear wheels. The team had only one spare wheel on hand, but thinking quickly, they came up with a plan to carry on. They installed the spare, and then stole two tires from last year’s soapbox car. The older car happened to be onsite, adorned in canary yellow paint and feathers, because of plans to enter it into the obstacle race scheduled for later in the day. The older car had smaller wheels than the new car, so they had to put the two smaller tires on the front, and move one front to the back.
With new tires in place, the Visionaries’ dream car finished the next two heats in 3rd place overall, clocking one of the event’s best times of 44 km/hr and qualifying them for the finals.

Canary Derby highlight

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But alas, victory was plucked from the Visionaries’ grasp when suddenly, a young boy stepped out onto the road, right in front of the speeding car. Jeff Stephen was driving at the time and fortunately he managed to swerve to avoid hitting the child – thank goodness! But in doing so, he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into an electrical box. Team-mates and opponents alike came running to pull Jeff out of the car, but miraculously, or perhaps because of the integrity of the car’s design, Jeff wasn’t hurt. But the Visionaries were heart-broken to see the extent of the damage – more broken wheels, but no more spares that would fit! This car was out of the race.

Disappointed but not defeated, the team quickly re-attached the borrowed tires back onto the yellow-feathered vehicle. It had managed a 3rd place finish in last year’s event when it was painted black and known as the Bat Mobile. What could it accomplish this year with its new canary exterior? Driven by Mechanical Engineering Bridge student Don Sproul, the Canary had a bumpy ride when its front tire flew off at the beginning of the race. No quitter, Don continued through the obstacle race on only three wheels, dodging haystacks, avoiding orange pylons and landing gracefully on the finish line platform. In 2nd place!

Congratulations Camosun Visionaries! We can’t wait to see what you’ll do next year!

The Canary DerbyWhat is the Canary Derby?

The Canary Derby raises money for the Canary Foundation of Canada, an organization dedicated to funding early cancer detection. The goal is to raise more than $500,000 on Vancouver Island over the next three years to support the early detection work at the BC Cancer Agency right here in Victoria.


Last updated: July 6, 2009 10:12 am

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