Wellsburg 2020 Oil Can Derby rolls on with Fourth of July tradition


WELLSBURG, W.Va. (WTRF) – The 2020 Oil Can Derby took place in Wellsburg on Saturday.

At a time when many communities cannot celebrate the Fourth of July the way they planned, this is one decade-old tradition that continued this year.

Kids and teens ages 8 to 14 hopped into one of several box cars with unique designs and let gravity do its work. But putting it together isn’t quite as simple as it looks.

We had a ramp built. Mazzella Welding built us a ramp, patched this road, make it safe. Haybales, barrels—it’s a lot of work.

Fred Marino, Manager

Manager Fred Marino is a former winner of the contest himself and has been involved in putting it on for many years.

He says it’s a pretty simple concept at its core.

Kind of like a Pinewood Derby with a driver. All of the races take place at this hill on 4th Street. Organizers have set up a wired timer system running from the bottom of the hill to the top to determine the winner.

Fred Marino, Manager

Aside from the fun factor of competing, the racers also win a nice trophy and bragging rights. When the kids were asked what they liked most of the derby, a familiar answer popped up again and again.

Just going on the track, just going down it. Just going down the track.

But behind the thrill of driving a car really fast down a hill lies pride and appreciation for the community that looks forward to the race every year.

Marino says some out-of-town visitors take their vacation to Wellsburg to see it, many of them former drivers themselves.

I love this town. And my committee, they do too, and we work very hard at putting this through, and the people really, really enjoy it.

Fred Marino, Manager

And those people packed the sidelines to let the racers know they could once again county on the cheers and the support of a tight-knit Ohio Valley community.


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