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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
When it comes to her car, Cailey Bozic feels more like a parent than an actual racer.
"I refer to my car as my child," the 16-year-old Tallmadge rising junior said. "His name is Patrick."
Patrick recently got an affectionate kiss from his "mom." That's because Bozic drove Patrick to a championship.
Bozic captured the rally super stock division title at the All-American Soap Box Derby's Dairy Queen Challenge July 12 at Derby Downs in Akron.
Bozic also competed in the All-American Derby. She lost her first race and was eliminated.
Although Bozic, who finished third in the rally super stock division at the 2015 All-American Derby, didn't have her best day at the All-American, she certainly made a lasting impression at the DQ Challenge.
Bozic won four races to capture the title.
"It was very crazy and very emotional," Bozic said.
It was especially emotional because she had to say goodbye to her ... well, friend.
"This is the last time I'm going to race Patrick," Bozic said. "I'm going to race in the masters division next year."
Bozic had to deal with some adversity after her first race of the DQ Challenge.
In fact, Bozic thought her day came to an abrupt end.
"After the first race, they [the race officials] said I was eliminated," she said. "We took the car up the top of the hill and put it away."
Bozic, on the other hand, felt really suspicious about the circumstances.
"I knew I was ahead," she said. "I was really skeptical. At that point, though, I took a deep breath and said, 'Oh well.'"
Fortunately, Bozic and her grandfather, Joe, went down to the photo booth. As a result, Bozic needed to go retrieve her car.
"After the photo finish, the race officials realized they messed up the times," Bozic said. "They ended up recalculating the times and I had to go back to the top of the hill to get my car."
Things got even more awkward from there.
"I was the one who had to tell the person who won that I actually won," Bozic said.
Thankfully, no other issues occurred the rest of the day. Bozic won her next two races to advance to the three-car championship.
But that didn't make Bozic feel any less uneasy.
"I was nervous," she said. "I just tried to keep calm and not psyche myself out. I've always had a good feel for the car. I have a lot of experience, but I wasn't overly confident."
During the championship race, Bozic decided to have a talk with Patrick. Let's just say she got her point across loud and clear.
"I screamed at my car on the way down," Bozic said. "After the race, somebody asked me if I was yelling. I think I told the car to go faster."
Bozic was much calmer after the race. A trip to the winner's circle certainly had a lot to do with her tranquil demeanor.
"The first thing I did was kiss the front of my car," Bozic said. "I think some people think I'm a little crazy, but it works for me."
Sadly, Bozic and Patrick will have to part ways for good. Since Bozic made her third trip as a super-stock racer to the All-American Derby, Patrick is no longer useful.
Nonetheless, Bozic will be more than happy to make a new friend.
Thanks to her dedication and a lot of help from her grandfather, Joe, Bozic plans to have another special relationship with her next vehicle.
"My grandfather and I build my cars together," she said. "I couldn't be successful without the stuff he does for the car. He gives up all his free time.
"We often have conversations about physics. We talk a lot about science and math-related stuff."
Bozic has competed in soap box races for more than eight years.
Her uncle, Adam, finished second at the All-American Derby in 1998. Her older sister Cassidy and cousin Makayla Herrle also competed in soap box competitions.
Bozic, who plans to major in neurology and biochemistry in college, hopes to keep racing until she is not eligible to race any more.
However, since her high school graduation day is not too far down the road, Bozic realizes that her racing days might be numbered.
"I'm thinking about going to the University of California Berkley," she said. "If I go there, it will be a challenge to continue racing. But I will definitely race whenever I can."