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State of Ohio Awards $500,000-Grant to Soap Box Derby for Capital Projects


The State of Ohio has awarded a $500,000-grant to International Soap Box Derby, Inc. (ISBD) for capital improvement projects at Derby Downs, home of the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship in July and special racing and community events throughout the year.

The grant was approved this week by the State of Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. 

“We are extremely grateful and excited to partner with the State of Ohio in receiving this capital grant,” said Mark Gerberich, ISBD president and chief executive officer.   “These funds will help the Soap Box Derby continue our momentum of site upgrades of our grounds and facilities over the next several years.”

Gerberich said that ISBD re-paved the Derby Downs track, installed a new sidewalk along the track and added signage throughout the grounds in 2021.  

“Going forward, Derby Downs becomes more appealing and efficient for Soap Box Derby participants, their families, race officials and other visitors,” he said.  “In addition, these improvements will enable us to expand our education programs for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students from the Akron area, and elsewhere in Ohio and from other states.”

Derby Downs was built in 1936 in Akron’s southeast area as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and has been home to 81 of the 83 All-American Soap Box Derby races. The 84th world championships will run on Saturday, July 23. 

“The Soap Box Derby brings dreams to life,” said Sen. Kristina Roegner.D-17 “I was delighted to help secure $500,000 in the state capital budget to benefit this legendary racetrack.”

“I was so pleased to assist in securing funding for this wonderful organization,” said Rep. Bill Roemer, D-38.