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Ninth Annual Soap Box Derby To Be Held Saturday, June 9

Market Street Hill will again be alive with the sight of soap box racers and spectators this Saturday, as the Ninth Annual Soap Box Derby is held. “Since 2010 this event seems to be getting bigger and bigger and gaining more interest,” Jim Campbell, one of the organizers of the event, told Webb Weekly. “The

Market Street Hill will again be alive with the sight of soap box racers and spectators this Saturday, as the Ninth Annual Soap Box Derby is held.

“Since 2010 this event seems to be getting bigger and bigger and gaining more interest,” Jim Campbell, one of the organizers of the event, told Webb Weekly. “The excitement and joy of the children participating in these races are incredible.”

The mission statement of the Williamsport Soap Box Derby states that its purpose is, “To provide a rewarding, meaningful and positive experience for girls and boys from Lycoming County through participation in the Williamsport Soap Box Derby.

There are two competitive divisions in the Soap Box Derby, Stock, and Super Stock.
Stock Division (200 lbs.)

The Stock Division is for racers age 7-13 years old. Stock cars can accommodate a racer up to approximately 5’3” tall and 125 pounds. There will be a total of 32 stock car drivers.
Super Stock Division (240 lbs.)

The Super Stock Division is designed for racers age 9-18 years old. Super Stock cars can accommodate a larger racer up to approximately 6’0” tall and 165 pounds. There will be a total of 26 super stock drivers.

The eligibility requirements for the Soap Box Derby include: Must be a resident of Lycoming County, between the ages of 7 and 18. They must have completed a registration form and have attended all of the Construction Clinics.

All derby drivers who will be participating in the WSBD will also be drawing for their car selection. This will be accomplished by putting all of the car numbers into a container. Drivers will select a number that will correspond to a particular kit number and wheels for each Division (Stock and Super Stock).

Drawings will continue until all kits and wheels have been assigned to each driver. Each car will remain that driver’s car throughout the event. The changing or trading of cars between drivers will not be permitted.

Derby participants will vie for the Darwin Cooper Memorial Championship Trophy and the right to compete at the National Soap Box Derby Championship in Akron, Ohio in July.

The derby has several local sponsors: Allison Crane & Rigging, Blaise Alexander Chevrolet, Crockett Financial Services, DeWald Chiropractic, Dolly’s Diner, Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc., Jersey Shore State Bank, Kiwanis Club of Williamsport, LeFevre Wilk Architects, Fred Plankenhorn, The Muncy Bank & Trust Co., Newberry Lions Club, Serene View Farm, Bed & Breakfast, and Snyder’s Quality Sweet Corn.

The late Darwin Cooper was a soap box derby competitor from Danville, who won the local soap box derby race in 1951 and went on to win the National Soap Box Derby, which was held in Akron, then just as it is now.

The idea of the Soap Box Derby grew out of a photographic assignment of Dayton, Ohio, newsman Myron Scott. He came across a group of boys racing their homemade cars in the summer of 1933 and was so impressed with the event that he acquired a copyright 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 in Dayton in 1934. The following year, the race moved to Akron, Ohio because of its central location and hilly terrain. The first race in Akron was run on Tallmadge Avenue.

In 1936, Chevrolet and Akron civic leaders-including legendary journalist John S. Knight-recognized the need for a permanent track site for the youth gravity racing classic. That year, through the efforts of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Derby Downs in the southeast section of Akron, became a reality.

The Soap Box Derby ran continuously from its inception until the onset of World War II. After a four-year hiatus, the All-American Soap Box Derby resumed in Akron in 1946 and has been held at Derby Downs in Akron every year since.

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