FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown

Local History

Soap Box Derby - History in McHenry County

-Excerpts from article by Brian Knight, Ringwood, August 2007

McHenry County has been involved in the All American Soap Box Derby (AASBD) program almost since it was started. County resident Mr. Henry E. Buch built a car and entered it in the soap box derby race down the South Street hill in Woodstock in 1940. He didn’t do well in that race, but he did very well the next year. Mr. Buch was fifteen years old in 1941 when he won local races and was sent to the national race in Akron, Ohio.

 

Mr. Buch was a B-29 crew member during World War II and later became a prominent citizen in McHenry County. He opened the 2005 Soap Box Derby races in McHenry, Illinois with a ceremonial run down the track in his 1941 car. The rubber on the old wheels gave out near the end of the track and he crashed. He was not hurt, his car was repaired, and he still has it.

 

During the 1940s informal soap box races were held weekly at numerous towns in the Fox River Valley. Eventually, Woodstock became the official site for the AASBD race at the local level.  Soap box racers in Woodstock started near the high school and raced their cars down the South Street hill toward town. Jim Barrett built a car, raced it in the 1952 Woodstock race, and was one of the winners. Mr. Peter Perkins of Marengo also entered that race. His car placed well enough to be sent to the races in Akron, Ohio.

 Is there an alternative to video games for youngsters today? Sure!

Early Soapbox Derby

          

The soap box derby is active and popular in McHenry County. The town of McHenry is where the official race is held each year. The track goes down the hill toward East Campus High School. The McHenry Kiwanis Club is the sponsor of this exciting event.

The rules are strict. Cars must be built with adult supervision. Cars are built from a kit and are ordered through the All American Soap Box Derby.  Boys and girls from ages eight to thirteen can become McHenry Kiwanis soap box derby racers. There are other requirements that must be met. The rewards are great. Building the car and being in a local race is exciting and something just a bit unusual. McHenry's winners earn the opportunity to enter a regional “rally” race. Rally race winners are the ones who take their cars to the national race in Akron, Ohio. Racers who win or place in each division at the races in Akron receive a variety of scholarships.

Are you tired of that video game? Get involved in a fun activity that has been in McHenry County long before video games were around. Get involved in the excitement of building and racing a soap box derby car. Specifics and requirements can be obtained from Mr. Jim Marinangel at the McHenry Savings Bank in McHenry, Illinois

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