2016 Soap Box Derby


Welcome to the All American Soap Box Derby held annually in Akron, Ohio. The Derby dates back to 1934, when the first All-American race was held in Dayton, Ohio.

Officials of the Soap Box Derby are inviting any Soap Box Derby racers who competed at Akron’s Derby Downs in August 1936, to be honored guests in pre-race ceremonies at the 79th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby on Saturday, July 16, 2016.

“We hope anyone who raced in the Akron local race or the third All-American Soap Box Derby in 1936, will help us commemorate this milestone,” said Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the Soap Box Derby of the 80th anniversary. “We will recognize any returning 1936 champions on race day during opening ceremonies and invite them to ride in the parade,” Mazur added.

Mazur explained that Derby Downs was built by the Works Progress Administration in the summer of 1936, on a site originally intended to be a ski run operated by the City of Akron.  Derby Downs has been the permanent home of the Soap Box Derby championship finals for 77 of the event’s 79 years. The first race in 1934 was in Dayton, and the 1935 event was on Tallmadge Avenue in Akron. There was a four-year hiatus from Soap Box Derby racing during World War II. Any 1936 racers may contact (330) 733-8723, Extension 34, or email alumni@soapboxderby.org  for more information.

More than 450 boys and girls will be in Akron beginning Sunday, July 10, for a week of activities leading to the championship finals on Saturday, July 16.

Two teenage volunteers of the Soap Box Derby program have been chosen as recipients of the President’s Youth Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes volunteers under the age of 21 who have made a positive impact on the Soap Box Derby through their leadership on the local or national level.

The 2016 award recipients are Veronica Harris of Campbell, Calif., and Laura Hubbell of Pataskala, Ohio.

“These young people chosen for this prestigious award have demonstrated a tremendous commitment to the Soap Box Derby in their home communities,” said Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the Soap Box Derby. “They both are seasoned racers who work to increase awareness in our program and mentor other youth so they get the maximum positive experience from their participation.”

Harris, 19, raced in the Silicon Valley Soap Box Derby and rally competition in Stock, Super Stock and Masters divisions over a seven-year period beginning in 2007. She has represented her area in the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron five times. As a volunteer, she serves her local and statewide California Derby programs as a mentor to younger racers by teaching them driving skills; motivates participants to persevere in difficult times; visits area schools and community events to promote awareness of Derby racing, and has taught a class of middle school students how to build, prepare and race Derby cars as part of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education program. She also is a driver for the SuperKids race for children special needs children and coordinates the run-out area at her local races.

Hubbell, 18, is a volunteer in the Columbus (Ohio) Soap Box Derby and also competes in rallies. She won all three division titles in Columbus and continues to race in Masters division rallies. She has raced in the world championship finals in Akron four times, including in the 2013 Ultimate Speed competition. In Columbus, Hubbell is a member of the junior board of the Derby organization; promotes involvement in Derby racing through events at schools, 4-H activities and booths at the Ohio State Fair; recruits and trains participants in SuperKids racing; has developed a “how to” manual to assist organizations in staging Soap Box Derby events, and mentored other racers on racing procedures.

Nominations for the youth award come from local, regional and national Soap Box Derby officials. The awards will be presented as part of the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby race day awards program at E.J. Thomas Hall on Saturday, July 16, 2016 at 7 p.m.

The World Championship finals are comprised of more than 550 qualifiers from states around the U.S. and several foreign countries. The race has more than 10,000 spectators who attend annually and over 1,500 volunteers every year. The race features boy and girl drivers from ages 7-20, who compete in one of three different divisions in these “gravity” races for scholarships and other prizes. Race week at Derby Downs race track is filled with many activities. The race encourages young people to take in the true spirit of teamwork and sportsmanship of the derby’s history.

Plan your visit to see the 2016 FirstEnergy All American Soap Box Derby at http://www.soapboxderby.org/.