Soap Box Derby

Updated August 28, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

All-American Soap Box Derby

At the 67th annual Soap Box Derby on a rain-soaked track in Akron, Ohio, Hilary Pearson won the Masters division, RickiLea Murphy took the Super Stock division and 10-year-old Tennessean Perrin Norris won the Stock divsion giving Tennessee its first Derby champ.

The All-American Soap Box Derby is a coasting race for small gravity-powered cars built by their drivers and assembled within strict guidelines on size, weight and cost. The Derby was started by Dayton, Ohio newsman Myron Scott after he witnessed several boys racing handmade carts down a hill while on a photographic assignment in 1933. Scott decided to start an organized race for kids and the first All-American Soap Box Derby was held in Dayton in 1934. The race got its name because early on most cars were built from wooden soap boxes. The following year, the race was moved to Akron because of its central location and hilly terrain. In 1936, town leaders saw the need for a permanent site for the growing event and with the help of the Works Progress Administration, Derby Downs was constructed.

Held every summer at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio, the Soap Box Derby is open to all boys and girls from 8 to 17 years old who qualify. There are three competitive divisions: 1. Stock (ages 8-17)- made up of generic, prefab racers that come from Derby-approved kits, can be assembled in four hours and don't exceed 200 pounds when driver, car and wheels are weighed together; 2. Super Stock (ages 10-17)- the same as Stock only with a weight limit of 220 pounds; 3. Masters (ages 11-17)- made up of racers designed by the drivers, but constructed with Derby-approved hardware. The racing ramp at Derby Downs is 989 feet, four inches with an 11 percent grade. In 2004, 483 boys and girls competed.

One champion reigned at the All-American Soap Box Derby each year from 1934-75; Junior and Senior division champions from 1976-87; Kit and Masters champions from 1988-91; Stock, Kit and Masters champions from 1992-94; Stock, Super Stock and Masters champions starting in 1995.

Year Hometown Age
1934 Robert Turner Muncie, IN 11
1935 Maurice Bale Jr. Anderson, IN 13
1936 Herbert Muench Jr. St. Louis 14
1937 Robert Ballard White Plains, NY 12
1938 Robert Berger Omaha, NE 14
1939 Clifton Hardesty White Plains, NY 11
1940 Thomas Fisher Detroit 12
1941 Claude Smith Akron, OH 14
1942-45 Not held
1946 Gilbert Klecan San Diego 14
1947 Kenneth Holmboe Charleston, WV 14
1948 Donald Strub Akron, OH 13
1949 Fred Derks Akron, OH 15
1950 Harold Williamson Charleston, WV 15
1951 Darwin Cooper Williamsport, PA 15
1952 Joe Lunn Columbus, GA 11
1953 Fred Mohler Muncie, IN 14
1954 Richard Kemp Los Angeles 14
1955 Richard Rohrer Rochester, NY 14
1956 Norman Westfall Rochester, NY 14
1957 Terry Townsend Anderson, IN 14
1958 James Miley Muncie, IN 15
1959 Barney Townsend Anderson, IN 13
1960 Fredric Lake South Bend, IN 11
1961 Dick Dawson Wichita, KS 13
1962 David Mann Gary, IN 14
1963 Harold Conrad Duluth, MN 12
1964 Gregory Schumacher Tacoma, WA 14
1965 Robert Logan Santa Ana, CA 12
1966 David Krussow Tacoma, WA 12
1967 Kenneth Cline Lincoln, NE 13
1968 Branch Lew Muncie, IN 11
1969 Steve Souter Midland, TX 12
1970 Samuel Gupton Durham, NC 13
1971 Larry Blair Oroville, CA 13
1972 Robert Lange Jr. Boulder, CO 14
1973 Bret Yarborough Elk Grove, CA 11
1974 Curt Yarborough Elk Grove, CA 11
1975 Karren Stead Lower Bucks, PA 11
1976 JR: Phil Raber Sugarcreek, OH 11
SR: Joan Ferdinand Canton, OH 14
1977 JR: Mark Ferdinand Canton, OH 10
SR: Steve Washburn Bristol, CT 15
1978 JR: Darren Hart Salem, OR 11
SR: Greg Cardinal Flint, MI 13
1979 JR: Russell Yurk Flint, MI 10
SR: Craig Kitchen Akron, OH 14
1980 JR: Chris Fulton Indianapolis 11
SR: Dan Porul Sherman Oaks, CA 12
1981 JR: Howie Fraley Portsmouth, OH 11
SR: Tonia Schlegel Hamilton, OH 13
1982 JR: Carol A. Sullivan Rochester, NH 10
SR: Matt Wolfgang Lehigh Val., PA 12
1983 JR: Tony Carlini Del Mar, CA 10
SR: Mike Burdgick Flint, MI 14
1984 JR: Chris Hess Hamilton, OH 11
SR: Anita Jackson St. Louis 15
1985 JR: Michael Gallo Danbury, CT 12
SR: Matt Sheffer York, PA 14
1986 JR: Marc Behan Dover, NH 9
SR: Tami Jo Sullivan Lancaster, OH 13
1987 JR: Matt Margules Danbury, CT 11
SR: Brian Drinkwater Bristol, CT 14
1988 KIT: Jason Lamb Des Moines, IA 10
MAS: David Duffield Kansas City 13
1989 KIT: David Schiller Dayton, OH 12
MAS: Faith Chavarria Ventura, CA 12
1990 MAS: Sami Jones Salem, OR 13
KIT: Mark Mihal Valparaiso, IN 12
1991 MAS: Danny Garland San Diego, CA 14
KIT: Paul Greenwald Saginaw, MI 13
1992 MAS: Bonnie Thornton Redding, CA 12
KIT: Carolyn Fox Sublimity, OR 11
STK: Loren Hurst Hudson, OH 10
1993 MAS: Dean Lutton Delta, OH 14
KIT: D.M. Del Ferraro Stow, OH 12
STK: Owen Yuda Boiling Springs, PA 10
1994 MAS: D.M. Del Ferraro Akron, OH 13
KIT: Joel Endres Akron, OH 14
STK: Kristina Damond Jamestown, NY 13
1995 MAS: J. Fensterbush Kingman, AZ 11
SS: Darcie Davisson Kingman, AZ 11
STK: Karen Thomas Jamestown, NY 11
1996 MAS: Tim Scrofano Conneaut, OH 12
SS: Jeremy Phillips Charlestown, WV 14
STK: Matt Perez No. Canton, OH 12
1997 MAS: Wade Wallace Elk Hart, IN 11
SS: Dolline Vance Salem, OR 13
STK: Mark Stephens Waynesboro, VA 13
1998 MAS: James Marsh Cleveland, OH 12
SS: Stacy Sharp Kingman, AZ 14
STK: Hailey Simpson Salem, OR 10
1999 MAS: Allan Endres Barberton, OH 14
SS: Alisha Ebner Salem, OR 15
STK: Justin Pillow Deland, FL 12
2000 MAS: Cody Butler Anderson, IN 12
SS: Derek Etherington Anderson, IN 11
STK: Rachel Curran Medina, OH 13
2001 MAS: Michael Flynn Harrison Township, MI 12
SS: James Rogers Hilton, NY 15
STK: Chad Eyerly Altaloma, CA 11
2002 MAS: Evan Griffin Winter Park, FL 15
SS: Roger Youmans Jr. Spencerport, NY 13
STK: C. Vannatta Anderson, IN 12
2003 MAS: Anthony Marulli Rochester, NY 14
SS: Corey Harkins Chicago 14
STK: Nicholas Sibeto New Castle, PA 12
2004 MAS: Hilary Pearson Kansas City, MO 14
SS: RickiLea Murphy Mantua, OH 12
STK: Perrin Norris Tullahoma, TN 10
2005 MAS: Ryan Siefkert Delphos, OH
SS: Justin Kurk Oregon, WI
STK: Kirby Gagne Winter Springs, FL
2006 MAS: Scott Reed Fredericksburg, VA
SS: Olivia Murphy Lafayette, IN
STK: Michael Bridges Scottsdale, AZ
2007 MAS: Scott Miesse Strongsville, OH
SS: Dennis VanFossen Barberton, OH
STK: Vince Sprague Cincinnati, OH

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