FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown




Because the 83rd FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby scheduled for July 25 has been canceled due to COVID-19, they will be honored online this year and be officially inducted in-person as part of the 2021 race week activities.

“The Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame recognizes the significant contributions and efforts of individuals who make it possible for the Soap Box Derby program to have an impact on the lives of young people throughout the United States and other parts of the world,” said Mark Gerberich, president and chief executive officer of International Soap Box Derby.

The 2020 inductees are:

John Evans 2020

JOHN EVANS, Lee’s Summit, Missouri. John Evans, 79, grew up in Independence, Missouri and raced in the nearby Kansas City Soap Box Derby for four years beginning in 1952. Evans won the local race when he was 14 in 1955 and competed in the All-American Soap Box Derby. He never lost his passion for the Soap Box Derby, joining the Kansas City Derby board in 1990, and continues to serve as a local advisor. Evans has been a regional director of the All-American Soap Box Derby since 2002, advising local race programs in eight states from Missouri north to North Dakota and west to Wyoming. His interest in racing was passed down to daughter Megan who raced beginning in 1995. She was the world rally champion at the 2002 All-American in the Super Stock division. Evans is a commercial real estate developer and owner.


William Ginter 2020

WILLIAM J. GINTER, Akron. Bill Ginter, 74, became involved in the Soap Box Derby in late 2009, leading an effort to stabilize the financial position and operations of the organization. As a long-time Akron civic leader, Ginter engaged local government and the business community to provide financial, management and governance support to the youth racing program. He joined the Soap Box Derby board of directors in 2010 and served as chairman from 2011 through 2016. Ginter was instrumental in securing FirstEnergy Corporation as title sponsor in 2012. He continues as an honorary board member of the Soap Box Derby and is a current or former officer or board member of United Way of Summit County, Akron Red Cross, Greater Akron Chamber, Summit County Board of Development Disabilities, Summa Health System, Summa Foundation, Workforce Development Board and BlueCoats. He retired as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Advanced Elastomer Systems in 1998; he is a commercial real estate developer and serves on the advisory boards of several private companies.


Bobby Nickoli 2020

BOBBY NICKOLI, Lagrange, Ohio. Bobby Nickoli, 71, started racing in the Cleveland Soap Box Derby in 1960, winning the local race and competing in the All-American Soap Box Derby in 1964. As a teenager, he helped promote the Soap Box Derby through presentations at Boy Scout meetings. In the late 1960s, he helped launch the Soap Box Derby in Amherst, Ohio, and later became active in the Cleveland race, where he has served as an inspector and race director. Nickoli helped plan and build the permanent Cleveland racetrack. He joined the A-Team at the All-American Soap Box Derby in 2003 and served as a member of the Racing Commission from 2015 through 2019. Nickoli helped set up the Ultimate Speed division in the early 2000s and continued as an Ultimate Speed official through 2018. He also helped launch the Legacy division in 2019. Nickoli is a member of the competition committee and is an honorary member of the Soap Box Derby board of directors. He is a retired accountant.


Gerberich said the 2020 honorees will bring the total number of inductees to 77 since the Hall of Fame was established in 1997.