by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Last year was a bit chaotic.
This year was an absolute blast.
It's safe to say Streetsboro resident Tyler Fleming, 16, really enjoyed his second trip to the All-American Soap Box Derby.
He did much better too.
After losing his first heat in last year's derby, Fleming placed in the top 16 at the 77th annual FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby July 26 at Derby Downs in Akron.
Fleming, whose car is named the "Green Monster," lost his second race after winning his first heat in the masters division.
"I was happy with it," he said. "I got further than last year. It means a lot to finish in the top 16."
This time, Fleming was able to relax and enjoy himself. Fleming admitted that he was a bit nervous about the derby last year.
"It was kind of hectic," he said. "This year, I knew what I was doing and it was pretty fun."
Fleming, who was in lane three in the second heat, knew he was in a tough spot.
"It's usually colder in the morning and lane three had been winning all morning," he said. "Around noon to 12:15, I knew it was going to get warmer and lane one had the advantage."
Fleming, who won his local race to advance to last year's All-American Soap Box Derby, was fortunate to grab the last qualifying spot of this year's derby. He hopes he doesn't have to sweat it out as much next year.
"I want to get more rally points," Fleming said. "I want to fine-tune some things before I start racing again."
Fleming also would like to have some company at next year's derby. His older sister, Becca, 17, just missed qualifying for the derby.
"Hopefully, both of us can make it next year," Fleming said. "She helps me and I help her."