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Derby Spotlight- Trey Knepper


Trey Knepper Photo 1Trey and Ronald McDonald at the McDonald’s Sendoff Party

Derby Spotlight - Trey Knepper

Trey Knepper has been involved with the Soap Box Derby since 2003 when he began his racing career in the Stock Division.  Even as a kid, he enjoyed relating math and science to real-world situations and activities, this is where Derby racing came into play.  He would take information from his physics classes, such as kinematic equations, and think about them in relation to his experiences as a Soap Box Derby racer.  Being able to apply those principles when building and racing his Derby cars was very interesting to Trey and eventually guided him to the STEM related career he has today. 

Trey always had a knack for math and a passion for designing anything, from cardboard sleds to greeting cards to Derby cars.  When he was younger he would research and brainstorm ideas that could make his cars go faster.  Soap Box Derby racing helped him confirm that he wanted to go into an engineering field when he got older.  He also loved the outdoors, which led him right to the decision to study Environmental Engineering.  Trey attended Shepherd University in West Virginia to obtain his Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Engineering.  After completing his Bachelor’s degree, Trey began working as a field engineer at MTV Solar in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.  He gained great experience by working on remote solar-powered systems on the Transmission Line responsible for powering the lighting on top of the transmission towers.  He has always been particularly interested in electricity and different types of energy.

That interest in energy, specifically gravity, definitely helps in the sport of Soap Box Derby racing.  Trey raced in all three divisions at one time or another. Stock Division for his first year, Super Stock from age 12 to 14 and Masters for his final two years of racing at ages 16 and 17.  He participated in his local race at the Norwalk Soap Box Derby in Martinsburg, West Virginia as well as a few rallies in Frederick and Indian Head, Maryland.  Trey won his local Masters Division in 2009 and was then eligible to come to Akron for the All-American Soap Box Derby Championship in his final year of racing.  One of his most memorable events from racing was winning his race local. Not only was it special because it was his last year competing, but he had to defeat his sister in the championship round to take home the title. Trey said that he was so relieved and ecstatic when they called his name as the winner. All of those years of hard work had finally paid off!  Trey’s family played a large role in the support and success of his Derby career.  His father helped him build his cars and take him to the races, his grandfather sponsored a Super Stock car for him, and his sister competed in races as well.  Today, the whole family still helps Trey run their local race.  His grandfather and father are car inspectors, his sister applies for grants and helps with registrations, and his mother helps with food preparations. Through his time as a racer and now a race director, a deep appreciation of family has been developed and learned to really value the time spent with them.

Trey is currently living in Hedgesville, West Virginia where he grew up. He works for Potomac Edison, one of FirstEnergy’s ten operating companies. He is a Distribution Technician II within the engineering department.  This means that he is a line engineer designer and works on anything from pole replacements, to new line extensions in order to provide service for new customers at their homes or businesses.  He also scouts for hazards and conducts damage assessments during storm trouble.  Despite being busy at his full time job, Trey still finds time to direct his local race.  He first assumed the role six years ago when he was just 19 years old, but hopes to take a break from directing when he decides to start a family (and hopefully become a Derby Dad!)  As for the future of the Derby, Trey would love to see it continue to grow nationwide and have championship heats televised on ESPN like it used to be.  He jokes, “Hopefully the Soap Box Derby just stays away from self-driving cars.”

Trey Knepper Photo 4

 Street View of Derby Race

Trey Knepper Photo 2

Trey at his 2009 Masters local race

Trey Knepper Photo 3

Driving an old geezer car

Note: This is the sixteenth 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)