Racing goes a long way back in time, and people will race just about anything, including a bed on wheels! The idea of the Soap Box Derby originated with news man Myron Scott. While on a photography assignment in Dayton Ohio in the summer of 1933, he came across a group of boys racing their home made cars.
He was so impressed with the event he acquired a copyright to Soap Box Derby, and went in search of a corporate sponsor to establish a national program.
Chevrolet liked Scott’s proposal and agreed to sponsor the first official All-American Soap Box Derby. This race took place in Dayton in 1934. The following year the race was moved to Akron, because of it’s central location and hilly terrain.
By 1936 Chevrolet and Akron civic leaders recognized the need for a permanent track site for the youth gravity racing classic. That year through the efforts of Works Progress Administration (WPA), Derby Downs became a reality in the southeast section of Akron.
The Soap Box Derby ran continuously from its inception until the onset of the second world war.
After a four year hiatus the All-American Soap Box Derby resumed in1946 in Akron and has been held at Derby Downs every year since. The Soap Box Derby was open to boys only until 1971 when girls were included.
In the fall of 1972 Chevrolet officials withdrew their sponsorship . All trademark and copyrights for the event were transferred to Akron Area Chamber of commerce. After attempts to secure new sponsors failed, the Chamber assumed financial and administrative responsibilities for the1973 program.
Early in 1974 the Chamber’s Derby corporation assigned rights for the All-American program to the Akron Jaycees, which established International Soap Box Derby Inc, to operate the Derby. The corporation’s affairs are administered by a board of directors of community leaders from Akron and other cities.
To become a Soap Box racer its best to start at the beginning, you can either buy a car or you can make a car. In order to make one you will need plans, or a kit, they are readily available on the internet, there are a multitude of different plans and kits to choose from. The advantage of making one yourself is that it will give you an in-depth idea of exactly how they work.
Some rules that apply are, the Soap Box car must meet the Construction and safety Guidelines. You must preregister, and all cars will be subjected to an inspection, and eliminated if deemed unsafe.
All drivers must wear shoes and a helmet with a chin strap. The race judges’ decisions are final and shall not be contested.
Should you be fortunate to have access to a soapbox car that has been stored in a barn or attic somewhere, you may be able to use it. But all cars must meet the standards and should be built with the driver’s safety in mind.
You can be as creative as you wish with your cars appearance , and in fact they do award trophies in the following categories.
- Most original plan design.
- Best novelty soap box car.
- Overall best soap box car.
- The safest car.
Soap Box Derby racing is a fun relatively inexpensive sport, that is readily available to boys and girls ages 7-13. Building their own soap box is an educational and fun experience.