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An official Soap Box Derby racer from 1967, including a “Snoopy as the flying ace” picture. Senior Seifenkiste – Deutsches Seifenkisten Derby e. The Soap Box is a youth soapbox car racing program which has been run in the United States since 1934.
World Championship finals are held each July at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio. Cars competing in this and related events are unpowered, relying completely upon gravity to move. In the wake of the first car races, local youth auto races took place in the US at a very early stage.
In 1914 the motion picture Kid Auto Races at Venice starring Charlie Chaplin was shown in the cinemas. In 1933 Myron Scott, a photographer for Dayton, Ohio newspaper Dayton Daily News, put together an impromptu race for 19 boys. There was so much interest that Scott arranged a bigger race, with prize money for August 19. An amazing crowd of 362 kids showed up with homemade cars built of orange crates, sheet tin, wagon and baby-buggy wheels.
The following year, the first All-American race was held on August 19. The national winner was Robert Turner of Muncie, IN, who made his car from the wood of a saloon bar. In 1935 the race was moved from Dayton to Akron because of its central location and hilly terrain.
An accident in 1935 captured the public’s interest, and boosted the event’s profile. Derby Downs became a reality. District Board of Trade, organized the event annually until 1973.
15 who were the champions of local races around the nation and from several foreign countries. At its peak, the Derby was one of the top five sporting events in terms of attendance. Starting in 1993, the All-American Soap Box derby began the Rally World Championship. The Rally derby is a grand prix style of race in which each district, ten in all, sends back a number of champions based on number of racers and races in each district.
Today there are broader categories that extend the age range to younger racers and permit adults to assist in construction. This is especially helpful for younger children who cannot use power tools, as well as to provide an outlet for adults.
Using standardized wheels with precision ball bearings, modern gravity-powered racers start at a ramp on top of a hill, attaining speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Rally races and qualifying races in cities around the world use advanced timing systems that measure the time difference between the competing cars to the thousandth of a second to determine the winner of a heat.
Each heat of a race lasts less than 30 seconds. Most races are double elimination races where a racer that loses a heat can work their way through the Challenger’s Bracket in an attempt to win the overall race. The annual World Championship race in Akron, however, is a single elimination race which uses overhead photography, triggered by a timing system, to determine the winner of each heat. Approximately 500 racers compete in two or three car heats to determine a World Champion in each divisions.
There are three racing divisions in most locals and at the All-American competition. The Stock division is designed to give the first-time builder a learning experience. Boys and girls, ages 7 through 13, compete in simplified cars built from kits purchased from the All-American.