FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown


Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame Will Induct Three New Members During Race Week In July


Three new members will be inducted into the Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame during the post-race awards ceremony for the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby on the evening of Saturday, July 16.

“The Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame was established in 1997, to honor individuals who have made a significant contribution for the betterment of our organization,” said Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the Soap Box Derby organization. “Each of the 2016 inductees certainly has made a significant impact on the lives of the thousands of boys and girls who compete in Soap Box Derby activities around the world.”

This year’s inductees are:

Chuck Jones, 60, has served as president and CEO of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. since January 2015. It was in 2012, while he was senior vice president, that Chuck championed sponsorship support of the Soap Box Derby among the leadership of FirstEnergy. The company became title sponsor beginning in March of that year. The partnership with FirstEnergy has provided the solid financial support that has enabled the Soap Box Derby to expand into new communities and to develop new educational initiatives.  An engineer, Jones has spent his entire career with FirstEnergy and its predecessor utility companies. 

John Esque, 77, who raced in the Akron local Soap Box Derby in 1953 and 1954, became an inspector at the Akron local in the mid-1970s. He later was chief inspector and served on the local board of directors until 1981, when he became a member of the All-American Soap Box Derby’s National Control Board. He continues to serve on that board (now called Racing Commission). Over the years, he has served as an All-American racecar inspector and has worked on a variety of improvement projects around the track.

In 1999, he designed and built the prototype of the Masters Division race car which continues in production today. Esque is a retired Akron fireman. His late wife Millie Esque, who was a member of the All-American headquarters staff, was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Bill Speeg was 46, when he died in 2014. His involvement with the Soap Box Derby began in 1999, when his daughter Ashley began to race. Speeg quickly became involved in local Oceanside and the statewide Soap Box Derby activities, serving as a board member and in other official capacities.  The Speeg family traveled to races throughout the country where he offered technical support, financial assistance and mentoring to many young racers. He had served as a Regional Director for nearly 10 years at the time of his death.  He was vice president of his family’s metal fabricating business. 

The inductions will be part of the 79th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby race day awards program at Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall on Saturday, July 16, at 7 p.m.

Mazur said the 2016 Class will bring the number of inductees to 68 since the Hall of Fame was established in 1997.

Chuck Jones 2016 Re Size

Chuck Jones

John Esque 2016

John Esque

Bill Speeg 2016

Bill Speeg

About International Soap Box Derby, Inc.

The Soap Box Derby is an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to build knowledge and character, and to create meaningful experiences through collaboration and fair and honest competition. 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.