FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown


Derby Spotlight- Jenn Baugher




Jenn Baugher (1)Jenn Baugher

Derby Spotlight - Jenn Baugher

Jenn Baugher grew up in Akron, Ohio beginning her Soap Box Derby racing career in 1992 at the age of just eight years old. She was the first and only member of her family to take part in the sport. By participating in the events, it allowed Jenn to become closer to her father; an engineer who enjoyed helping her build her Stock and Super Stock Derby cars. Jenn’s already existing interest in cars paired with her father’s engineering insight helped lead her to the STEM career field she works in today!

Jenn attended the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) before becoming an Advanced Concept Designer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). She had a knack for drawing and making artwork her entire life, but it wasn’t until her early teens that the specific interest in cars developed. At first, the direction she wanted to take was to become a custom car painter and air brusher. After she painted her friend’s and her own Super Stock cars, she realized that may not exactly be her passion. It was a great learning experience however, that helped her later in college when deciding to create car models. That is when she found out that there are careers where people can draw and design future cars. It was in that moment, she knew that was what she wanted to do after graduating from CIA. The Soap Box Derby helped lead Jenn to her STEAM career (many in her industry add the A for Art). What she does is closely related to STEM but also adds the element of creative thinking, problem solving and artistic skills that also apply to being a successful Derby racer.

Jenn began competing at eight years old and continued until 2001 when she was 17. She raced both Stock and Super Stock in the Akron Local as well as a few rally races in Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio; Charleston, WV and Rochester, NY. She competed for a few years in the Buccaneer Invitational in Charleston, WV as a calibration driver for the calibration of the hill that was done prior to sanctioned All-American races. The Soap Box Derby taught her many life lessons such as sportsmanship, commitment, responsibility, innovation and to compete with integrity. The principle of hard work, commitment and competitiveness instilled through the Derby helped with pursing a job in the car design industry. It is a very difficult field to get into, so those skills really benefited Jenn when landing her job at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.  

Today, Jenn lives in the Greater Detroit area working in the Advanced Studio of a major auto manufacturer. Her job is to dream up, design and draw future vehicles for her company. She works with a team to help define the future direction of the company’s brands: Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Even though Jenn is now a very successful car designer, she has not forgotten about her time spent growing up with the Soap Box Derby. The most memorable aspect of her participation in the Derby was the relationships cultivated through racing. Not only was it a great bonding experience with her father, but it allowed her to make lifelong friendships. Many of the racers have grown up and moved away from the area, but they still stay in contact on Facebook almost 15 years later! Jenn would love to stay engaged in the Soap Box Derby today, and help in any way she can. She wants to see the Derby draw on its roots as an All-American sport while also embracing the new technologies and changing culture of our country. Jenn says, “We need to answer the question of how does the Derby evolve to stay relevant in an increasingly tech-driven society and more diverse, world-based culture? I think this includes a multi-solution approach looking at defining new products and new ways of thinking about the sport.”

 Jen Baugher

 Jenn Baugher1

 Jenn Baugher


Note: This is the nineteenth in a series of spotlights on former Derby racers who have gone on to study/work in a STEM related field. If you know of someone who we could spotlight please let us know at

Past Spotlight Features

Nicole Stout - Spotlight (January 2016)

Michael Gallo - Spotlight (February 2016) 

Todd Hinton - Spotlight (March 2016)

Alan Uhler - Spotlight (April 2016)

Kristi Murphy - Spotlight (May 2016)

James Fell - Spotlight (June 2016)

Michael J. Corson, Jr. - Spotlight (July 2016)

David Reid - Spotlight (August 2016)

John Horner - Spotlight (September 2016)

John Hamels - Spotlight (October 2016)

Kenneth Holmboe - Spotlight (November 2016)

John Menches - Spotlight (December 2016)

Steve Cox - Spotlight (January 2017)

Rachel (Dyer) Samm - Spotlight (February 2017)

Nevin Ream - Spotlight (March 2017)

Trey Knepper - Spotlight (April 2017)

James Yeager - Spotlight (May 2017)

Shannon Hoffman - Spotlight (June 2017)