How the Chicago Wolves' Baby Derby was won

Mon, Mar 28

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Some racers get into their sport of choice for the glory. Others, for the fame.

But those closest to Nathan Gilbert say he's motivated by something else.

"It was that remote controller, man," said his father Isaiah. "That little car I bought him, he loves that thing."

Ten-month-old Nathan crawled his way to glory in front of more than 11,000 screaming hockey fans during the Chicago Wolves' 13th annual Baby Derby on Sunday afternoon, on a mat at center ice.

The event pits five infants against one another during intermission of the American Hockey League game, with bragging rights and a trip to the Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena, Ill., on the line.

"The early start is typically the way to go for this," said Courtney Mahoney, the Wolves' senior vice president of operations. "If you don't get a good start, you're not going to do it. That seems to be the way to go."

Of course, when Wolves announcer Wayne Messmer invited parents to "unleash the babies," the eventual winner appeared to want to stay, well, leashed.

While another infant crawled out to an early lead, Nathan went out a couple paces and then plopped down, turned around and faced his father for a brief moment.

"[The crowd noise] surprised him at first -- but he blocked it out, focused on Mommy and his new remote control car, and he was good to go," Isaiah said.

So how does one train an infant to attain racing immortality just 10 months into his existence?

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