Soap Box Derby

The Soap Box Derby is a youth soapbox car racing curriculum which has been run in the United States since 1934.

World Championship challenge is held each July at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio. Cars competing in this and related events are unpowered, relying totally upon gravity to move.

Soap Box Derby History


In the wake of the primary car races, local kid 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. The first All-American race was held in Dayton on August 19, 1934.

subsequent to an idea by Myron Scott, a photographer for the Dayton Daily News. The following year, the race was moved to Akron because of its central location and hilly terrain.

In 1936, Akron civic cream of the crop recognized the need for a permanent track site for the youth racing classic and, from side to side the efforts of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Derby Downs became a reality. An accident in 1935 captured the public's interest, and boosted the event's side view. A car went off the track and struck NBC's top commentator and sportscaster Graham McNamee while he was broadcasting be in this world on the air. Despite a concussion and other injuries (which would require a two-week hospital stay), McNamee described the collision to his spectators and finished his broadcast.