FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown




       AKRON, Ohio (June 26, 2023) – Three long-time volunteers will be inducted into the Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame during the post-race awards ceremony for the 85th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby on the evening of Saturday, July 22.


            “The Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame was established in 1997, to recognize the significant contributions and efforts of individuals who have made 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 Bret Treier, board chairman of International Soap Box Derby.


The 2023 Hall of Fame inductees are:

Untitled Design 7JOHN PETER (JP) FEDELE, Madison, Wisconsin, John Peter (JP) Fedele, 72, became race director of the Madison Soap Box Derby in 1981, and continued as director or assistant director until 2016.  During many of those years, he also volunteered with the Racine race and he has been involved with the All-American Soap Box Derby since 1982.  For several years, he coordinated sending the Madison local champs and their winning cars to compete in Australia.  He has been a member of the All-American’s A-Team since 1986, assisting in many technical activities such as inspecting and weighing race cars, testing cars’ brake systems and working in the run-out area and returning cars to Topside. He is a retired plumber.




Untitled Design 6DANNY HUGHES, Grove City, Ohio. Danny Hughes, 66, has been involved in the Columbus, Ohio Soap Box Derby in a variety of roles since 1998. He has maintained the facilities and equipment used in staging the race, including track surfacing and equipment for the starting and finish lines.   He served as assistant race director from 2000 through 2016, and has been vice president since 2004.  Hughes has been a member of the racing commission for the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby since 2009, and was an assistant regional director from 2000 through 2003.  He was instrumental in the development of the Mini-Car program in 2012, by making the initial molds and producing the scale model race cars used today throughout the United States in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) education programs by schools and community groups. Hughes is the retired road superintendent for Jackson Township, Ohio.



Untitled Design 8SUE NELMAN, Stow, Ohio.  Sue Nelman, 70, started as a volunteer and board member of the Akron local Soap Box Derby in the 1980s when her sons raced.  She joined the staff of All-American Soap Box Derby in 1983, where she served for 15 years in finance, inventory and computer operations.  Sue helped develop the national Rally program’s points system and tracked participants’ points toward a berth in the world championships.  After leaving the headquarters staff, she has continued as a volunteer. She retired as financial secretary from First United Methodist Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.





“These new honorees bring the total number to 86 over the past 26 years,” Treier said. “The first inductee was Myron Scott, who founded the Soap Box Derby program in 1934.”      



About the Soap Box Derby

The International Soap Box Derby® is a non-profit youth education and leadership development organization whose mission is to build knowledge and character, and to create meaningful experiences through fair and honest racing competitions, STEM curriculums, and other community-focused activities. The Derby’s Core Values and Drivers include Youth Education and Leadership Development; Family Engagement and Enrichment; Honesty, Integrity, and Perseverance; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Teamwork and Collaboration; Mentoring; Volunteerism; and Commitment to Community. The Derby’s two youth initiatives are the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby racing program and the STEM-based Education Program, which provides educational opportunities for K-12 youth worldwide through Soap Box Derby racing. The Derby dates back to 1934, when the first All-American race was held in Dayton, Ohio. For more information, visit