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Soap Box Derby And The City Of Tallmadge Set To Celebrate The 80th Anniversary Of The All-American Soap Box Derby On Tallmadge Hill


On Sunday, August 9, the International Soap Box Derby and the City of Tallmadge will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the 1935 All-American Soap Box Derby with a dedication ceremony and Soap Box Derby races. The event will take place on West Avenue in Tallmadge from noon-2 pm. West Avenue hill is the site of the second All-American race and the first Akron-area race.

The dedication ceremony will begin at noon and a marker will be placed to commemorate the starting line of the 1935 race. Immediately following the dedication, Soap Box Derby Car races for the public will take place. These races will be open to ages 13 and over. Adult size derby cars and helmets will be provided. Anyone interested in racing must pre-register and sign a participation waiver. Pre-registration will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 29 at the Tallmadge Recreation Center and must be done in person. There is a limit of 100 racers and a limit of one registration per person.

“As Mayor of the City where it all began, I am thrilled to host the 80th anniversary celebration of the Soap Box Derby’s race down Tallmadge Hill, now better known as West Avenue,” said City of Tallmadge Mayor David G. Kline. “I think area Derby fans will be very excited to join the lucky 100 that get to drive down that same part of the hill in a derby car and I am hoping to be one of them! I welcome fans from far and wide to our city and hope that everyone who comes to the hill to be a part of this meaningful event will enjoy all the activities we’ve planned. We are proud to be a part of this day and hope others will share our excitement!”

“We’re excited to partner with the City of Tallmadge for this truly unique event,” said Soap Box Derby President & CEO Joe Mazur. “The Derby has a rich tradition in the Akron area and we’re looking forward to providing Derby fans with the opportunity to ‘re-live the past’ at the historic Tallmadge Hill where it all began in 1935.”

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 to Soap Box Derby 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 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 became a reality in the southeast section of Akron. 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 every year since. The 78th running of the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby will take place from Sunday through Saturday, July 19-25, 2015.