FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown


Derby Spotlight - Marty Sullivan


Derby Spotlight – Marty Sullivan

Marty Sullivan has always been fascinated with the mechanics of making a Derby car run fast! As he would put it, “Mechanical Engineering was a natural fit for me!”. Marty began racing in 1960 and raced for 5 years, the maximum amount of years one can race. His very first year he came in seventh and by his final year he spent 10 months building a new car and he won the trip to Akron to race against 120 participants.

The Derby been a huge part of Marty’s life, and his families too. His mother and father were both involved in the Local Organization while he was a participant. While His brother, Robert Sullivan, was the first Regional Director in 1972. He spent time with his father, that he will forever treasure, working on his Derby cars. All of Marty’s Derby cars were pink because his father told him that was the only color of paint they had, and his father enjoyed that he was the only pink car in the race. From then on, his father requested that he keep that color through his racing career, and the tradition was born. His father never missed one of his Derby events. Since Marty had always been intrigued with how things worked he went on to attend New Hampshire Technical Institute and University of New Hampshire. When he graduated he worked for an electric company for four years, but always wanted a position in the Government. He later became a Mechanical Engineer for the government and did so for over forty years.

The derby continues to be an important part of Marty’s life even today! His son Kevin raced as soon as he could, and Marty was proud when he placed second in the Rally Master Division at the All American in 2003. His nieces and nephews also involved in the derby. His niece Carol Sullivan won the 1982 All American in the Junior Division. His best experience was watching his nephew’s character develop while he was involved in the Derby. His nephew had no confidence and stuttered, but after being a part of the Derby he came in seventh, his stuttering went away, and you could see his confidence developing. Proving that the Derby builds character and confidence in the youth that are involved.

Marty was inducted in the Derby Hall of Fame in 2013 because of his significant contributions to the Soap Box Derby! Marty is an Eagle Scout and was involved with the Boy Scouts for twenty years. Marty felt that he needed to decide which direction to go since Boy Scouts and the Derby was taking up a significant amount of family time.  The Boy Scout organization was doing fine and he felt that he could be more help with the Derby Organization -- the rest is history for him and he never regretted choosing Derby over Boy Scouts.

Marty currently lives in Dover, New Hampshire. He retired from the Government as a Mechanical Engineer, but currently works part time as a contractor for the Government. The Derby had a big impact on his STEM career and he sees the STEM program as the best avenue for the Derby to grow and become as popular as it was when he was racing. Since 2013 he has been Chairman of the Regional Directors, and says, “As long as I am able to contribute I will remain involved in the Soap Box Derby.”

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Note: This is the twenty-first 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)

Trey Knepper - Spotlight (April 2017)

James Yeager - Spotlight (May 2017)

Shannon Hoffman - Spotlight (June 2017)

Jenn Baugher - Spotlight (July 2017)

Bob Ballard - Spotlight (August 2017)