FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown

All-American Soap Box Derby® Timeline

1934 - First All-American Soap Box Derby ran in Dayton, Ohio.  Eleven-year-old Bob Turner of Muncie, Ind., won.

1934 1St Derby Race Resize

1935 - Race moved to Akron and ran on Tallmadge Avenue Hill.  Maurice Bale, Jr., 14, of Anderson, Ind., won. International media attention was focused on the event when popular radio announcer Graham McNamee was struck by an out-of-control race car.

1935 1Stakronrace Resize

1936 - Derby Downs opened. Built  by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

1936 New Track Built Resize

1938 - Grandstands added along track.

1941 - Akron's Claude Smith, 14, won the last All-American Soap Box Derby before a four-year suspension during World War II.

1941 Aa Winner Resize

1946 - Soap Box Derby racing resumed.

1971 - Girls competed in Soap Box Derby racing for the first time.

1971 1St Girl In Akron Nancy Resize

1972 - In Fall 1972, Chevrolet withdrew its national sponsorship of the Soap Box Derby and transferred all program rights to the Akron Area Chamber of Commerce.

1973 - The Chamber conducted the race with local support, but no national sponsor. Champion Jimmy Gronen of Boulder, Colo., was disqualified after the race when an electromagnet was found in his car.

1973Magnetcar Resize

1974 - The Akron Chamber assigned all rights to the Akron Jaycees, which established International Soap Box Derby, Inc. to operate the Derby.

That organization continues today to manage the local and All-American Soap Box Derby activities.

1975 - Eleven-year-old Karren Stead of Lower Bucks County, Pa., became the first girl to win the All-American Soap Box Derby.

1975 Aa Winner First Girl Resize

In November 1975, Novar Electronics Corporation of Barberton, Ohio, became the new national sponsor.

1976 - Officials added the Kit Car-or Junior-Division, in which youngsters 10 through 12 built cars from hardware supplied in a kit and with patterns for the floorboards.  Phil Raber, 11, of Sugarcreek, Ohio, won the first All-American Soap Box Derby's Junior title.

1976 Aa First Kit Car Winner Resize

1981 - Some junior contestants built cars built for the first time with fiberglass body shells provided by All-American headquarters.

1986 - The first sanctioned rally races were run, in which youngsters accumulated points to earn a "wildcard" slot in the field for the All-American Soap Box Derby.

1987 - Thirty All-American Soap Box Derby world champions returned to Akron to celebrate the program's 50th anniversary.  Bob Turner, the first winner, was grand marshal of the Race Day Parade.

1987Pastworldchamps Resize

1992 - The novice Stock Car division was added for youngsters 8 through 13. They built ready-to-assemble fiberglass cars.

Also in 1992, a new headquarters building opened on the west side of the track's run-out area.

1992 New Headquarters Building Resize

1993 - For the first time, youngsters qualified for a separate All-American rally championship.

1995 - Super Stock ready-to-assemble cars for larger youngsters replaced the Kit Cars.

1997 - As part of the 60th anniversary celebration, the All-American Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame was established.  Myron Scott, the youth racing program's founder, returned to Akron to become the first inductee.

Myron Scott Hof Induction 97 Resize

1999 - New metal bleachers replaced the aged, wooden grandstands. The project was funded by the City of Akron.

2000 - A new two-deck steel bridge, funded by Summit County, replaced the bridge that had stood over the finish line since 1937.  Because of the positioning of the new structure, the track was lengthened by 35 feet to its current 989 feet, four inches.

2012 - FirstEnergy Corp., the diverse energy company based in Akron, became the program's title sponsor.

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More than 550 youngsters between the ages of 7 and 17 represented their home communities in the 75th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby on Saturday, July 21. They came from 40 states in the United States, as well as from Canada, Germany, Japan and New Zealand.

The Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame Museum and Starting Line Structure were constructed.

2013 - A new three lane wheel and lane swap race for Rally Champions was added to Race Week during the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby. In 2014 the event was re-named the DQ Rally Challenge.

2015 - In addition to the DQ Rally Challenge a new three lane wheel and lane swap race for Local Champions was added to Race Week and named the SUBWAY® Challenge. 

2016 - The Soap Box Derby Scholarship fund was renamed to the Bill Speeg Memorial Scholarship fund.

Bill Speeg 2016