The All American Soap Derby - Where Kids Get To Be Rally Drivers!
On July 24th, thousands of people braved the sweltering 103 degree Celsius temperatures in Akron, Ohio to cheer on a revered American tradition - The All American Soap Box Derby (AABSD). Now in its 73rd year, the annual event attracted 556 finalists from across the country and, as far as, New Zealand.
Open to kids aged 8-17, the youth Soapbox race involves contestants' competing in home-built cars built to the specifications and kits provided by event organizers. All races start at a ramp on top of a slope, allowing competitors to race down at speeds that exceed 35 mph, pulled down by sheer gravity.
To qualify for the final event, the contestants have to be a 'Local' or 'International' champion by winning one of the soap derby challenges that take place in all the major cities of the US and internationally or, be a 'Rally' champion - the winner of an AABSD approved rally.
Racers compete in three divisions: Stock, for ages 8 to 13; Super Stock for experienced 10 to 17-year-olds and Masters for highly competitive 10 to 17 year-olds. Two champions, Local and Rally, are declared in each category.
This year, the winner's circle was split evenly amongst girls and boys, with the girl's dominating the Local championships, while the boys took control of the Rally division. Megan Congaware from Perry took home the Stock Championship, while 13-year old Tucker McClaren from Oregon, beat out bigger, heavier competitors in the Super Stock Division charging down the racetrack in her 'Super Blue Meanie', paid for from her own hard-earned money. Morgan Champagne from Dover, N.H., went home with the Masters trophy.
11-year old Ricky Desens, a first-timer from Webster, took home the Stock Rally championship, while Sean Brown of Spotsylvania, VA was the Super Stock Rally champion and Guilderland's Michael Morawsk, the Rally Masters champion.
While the race and week-long party that precedes the derby was exciting, this year's event was extra special because it was used to shoot scenes for '25 Hill', a film about a 12-year old boy's quest to compete in a Soap Derby. What's even better is that Corbin Bernstein, the director of the movie, has decided to donate all proceeds from the film to the organizers of the All American Soap Derby, to try keep this venerable tradition alive, for future generations.