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Savvy young drivers outwit adults piloting wacky sleds downhill

Ready to race downhill in the Krazy Downhill Derby held Saturday Feb. 23 in Chestertown are young Baker siblings Hayden, 4; Cyrus, 5; and Wyatt, 10. Their father Aaron and Sean of Baker logging get ready to launch the bulky craft, fashioned after a John Deere skidder by the Baker family.

Ready to race downhill in the Krazy Downhill Derby held Saturday Feb. 23 in Chestertown are young Baker siblings Hayden, 4; Cyrus, 5; and Wyatt, 10. Their father Aaron and Sean of Baker logging get ready to launch the bulky craft, fashioned after a John Deere skidder by the Baker family. Photo by Thom Randall.

— With mock disgust, Tom Martin looked at his racing dragster which had been modified to travel over snow for the Krazy Downhill Derby held Saturday Feb. 23. This beloved local event annually attracts competitors from a wide region for its festive atmosphere spiked with creativity and humor.

The running gear on Martin’s vehicle, including skis strapped to its front wheels which were scavenged from a wheelchair, and its rear suspension – minivan wheels tied to plastic sled saucers – were beat up after the race. Martin’s metal monstrosity had rotated and careened backwards down Dynamite Hill, with a crowd yelling in anticipation of a snowy crash.

“No one would believe us if we said we planned this,” quipped Martin, as he and his cohorts Drew Kuklinski and Chris Walker, both from Chestertown, positioned the vehicle to be loaded onto a trailer.

Before the race, they described the vehicle’s elaborate steering system, and its brake, a landscaping rake jutting out of the back of the heavy-duty steel vehicle.

Afterwards, they exchanged mock blame for the dubious engineering, but decided that Kuklinski hanging off the back of the dragster, lifted the front skis off the snow, rendering the complex steering useless.

“We’ll be re-engineering this for next year,” Martin said with a grin. “We’ll redistribute the weight, and won’t be using those saucers.”

Competing craft, piloted by youngsters, had managed to stay on course as they traversed downhill.

One of them was a faux logging skidder, constructed with two-by-fours and thick plywood, appearing to weigh 200 pounds or so. Driving the boxy, hulking vehicle for Baker Logging were three Baker children – Hayden, 4; Cyrus, 5; and Wyatt, 10. The craft made it downhill with young Wyatt manipulating the two-by-four levers that dug into the snow for steering.

“I was headed toward the crowd, and I just pulled back on one brake and pushed the other, and we straightened out,” Wyatt Baker said.

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