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Soap Box Derby Hall of Famer John Esque Passes Away At 80


Long-time Soap Box Derby volunteer John Esque passed away in Akron on April 27, after a brief illness. He was 80.

John raced in the Akron Soap Box Derby in 1953 and 1954. In the mid-1970s, he became an inspector for the local race. He later was the 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 (now called the Racing Commission). Over the years through the 2018 event, John continued to serve as an All-American race car inspector and also worked on a variety of improvement projects around the Derby Downs facility.

In 1999, John designed and built the prototype of the Masters Division race car, which continues in production today.

John was a retired Akron fireman. He was inducted into the Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame in 2016. His late wife Millie Esque, a long-time member of the All-American headquarters staff, was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Services for John will be Friday, May 3, at the Newcomer Funeral Home in Akron.