FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown

Local History

This was how this section of Quezon Blvd. looked like in 1962 when racers, with crowds cheering, streaked toward the finish line.

Old Racing
Soap box derby was one of the country’s biggest summer sports events in the 50s and 60s. Close to 300 kids vied for the title, racing against time down in a 300 plus-meter course. Their race cars were made of wood on a steel chassis, which were hoisted up 16 feet to a holding pen before they were released.

Soap box derby racing was introduced in the Philippines in 1955 at Clark Air Base. The following year, under the sponsorship of the Better Boys Association, the first Philippine national soap box derby was held in Quezon City on Highway 54 (now EDSA) near Camp Murphy, with Rafael Prieto, coming out as the champion. Since then, the soap box derby races, which aimed to instill discipline among the youth, show them the value of sportsmanship and respect of the rules, became an annual event, with the champion each year going to Akron, The popularity saw its decline in the latter part of the 60s and was eventually scrapped. It was temporarily revived in the 80s, but the enthusiasm and interest to the sport was not there.

Old Racing 1

Did you know that in the 60s, part of sloping stretch in Quezon Blvd was used as the venue for this grand sports spectacle? These races, from 1961 to the latter part of the 60s were held in this section of Quezon Blvd, from near the junction of West Avenue and Quezon Blvd (within the vicinity of JUSMAG Officer’s Clubhouse) up to Roosevelt Avenue near the Pantranco bus terminal. The area, which was closed to traffic for two days, was turned into a gigantic field with lots of ambulant vendors i.e. selling ice cream, popcorn and cotton candy. Festive moods filled the air as people, young and old, witnessed the races.

Why is it called the "Soap Box" Derby? Were the cars ever made from soap boxes? Was a soap company an early sponsor? Kids would take empty soap crates or wooden soapboxes that were destined for the trash, put wheels on them and race them usually downhill. The wheels were often from baby carriages. The first ones were steered by ropes tied to the axles or simply by placing the feet on the axles and pushing on the one you needed to go in the correct direction. (internet source)

The goals of the Soap Box Derby program have not changed since it began way back to 1934 in Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A. They are to teach youngsters basic skills of workmanship and the spirit of friendly competition.