FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown




The International Soap Box Derby (ISBD) continued to build momentum during 2019, in its traditional racing and education programs, as well as special events at Derby Downs, according to the organization’s recently released annual report.

In 2019, 100 local communities in the United States, Canada, Germany and Japan staged 1,250 races in which 3,500 boys and girls raced their gravity-powered race cars built from kits provided by ISBD. In addition, 27,000 students in 830 schools in the United States participated in ISBD’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in-school education program.

During the year, there also were 80 special events at Derby Downs, in which community members and visitors took more than 10,000 trips down the historic track.

“The All-American Soap Box Derby continues to grow, fulfilling its mission to serve youth with one of the most exciting and competitive STEM-related programs in the country,” said Mark Mroczynski, chairman of the ISBD board of directors.

“The Soap Box Derby is thankful for many of our sponsors, individual donors, foundation partners in Akron, County of Summit and Stark County. We were able to collaborate and partner with a number of local organizations that gave the youth of our community the opportunity for fun and experiential learning,” said Mark Gerberich, ISBD’s president and chief executive officer. “We look forward to increasing our partnerships as we move forward.”

The Derby’s education programs and events at the track have provided nearly $120,000 in support to youth organizations. The Derby provided educational materials as well as Soap Box Derby cars to schools and organizations to be able to participate in the Gravity Racing Challenge STEM Team Competition presented by the University of Akron College of Engineering, and to provide the Soap Box Derby mini car program to schools and youth organizations.

For decades, volunteers have been the foundation of the Soap Box Derby to ensure success in all its race locations. There are more than 300 people who come to Akron to volunteer for the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship each July and a total of more than 3,300 volunteers who support all the events yearly in communities around the world. The top fund-raising event is the United Way Corporate Derby Challenge presented by Fallsway Equipment Company. In 2019, the Derby hosted 31 teams from area companies and organizations who designed, built, and competed in adult-sized cars in a fun race at Derby Downs.

The Soap Box Derby annually awards the President’s Youth Volunteer Service Award to youth under the age of 21 who have made a positive impact on Soap Box Derby programs by volunteering and mentoring on the local or national level. In 2019, Sarah Kolesar, Xander Nihart, Allison Pankoff and Abigail Waldron were the recipients of this award. Also, veteran volunteers Brian Graham, Ed Harmon and Will Looman were inducted into the Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame in recognition of their significant contributions to the program over the years.

The 83rd FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby will be on Saturday, July 25, at Derby Downs.

Copies of the 2019 annual report are available on the ISBD’s website: