News Article

Four Youth Volunteers Will Receive 2023 Soap Box Derby Service Awards

AKRON, Ohio (July 05, 2023) – Four young volunteers of the Soap Box Derby program have been selected to receive the program’s Youth Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes volunteers under the age of 21 who have made a positive impact on the Soap Box Derby through their leadership on the local, regional and nation levels.

“Our 2023 honorees are long-time Soap Box Derby competitors who are giving back to the program through their support in promoting and staging their local races and by mentoring other participants who are new to racing,” said Bret Treier, board chairman of International Soap Box Derby.

The 2023 honorees are:

JOHN BARR, Arlington, Massachusetts. John, 16, started racing in the Soap Box Derby in Arlington in 2014 at age seven—and has been racing ever since. John has competed in the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron four times—as Arlington’s local Super Stock division champion in 2019 and as a rally points Stock champion in 2018 and in Super Stock in 2021 and 2022. John will be competing in the rally Masters division in the 2023 All-American championships.

John has been an active promoter of Soap Box Derby participation through science events at schools; local parades and festivals; community events; Soap Box Derby car and driver clinics, and as a mentor to younger racers. John also has been a co-pilot for SuperKids races for children with special needs. John will be a junior at Arlington High School this fall.

CONNOR MAGNUSON, Rockford, Illinois. Connor, 17, has been competing in Soap Box Derby racing since 2015. He raced in the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby in 2016 after winning the Stock division in McHenry, Illinois. In the Greater Chicago Soap Box Derby, he won the Super Stock division in 2019 and the Masters title in 2022. He also participated as a rally points winner in Stock in 2017 and Masters in 2021. He returns as a rally Masters champion in 2023.

Connor has a keen interest in computer systems and has been instrumental in the development of a timing app used at multiple Soap Box Derby races around the country. He also helps maintain the Chicago Soap Box Derby website, set-up of the timing and communications systems for Chicago races and mentors younger racers in Chicago and during race week at the world championships in Akron. Connor will be a senior at Rockford Christian High School. He plans to study computer science in college and hopes eventually to work for SpaceX.

LAURA SMUTNY, Canfield, Ohio. Laura, 19, has been racing in the Portage County Soap Box Derby since 2017. She has competed in the First Energy All-American Soap Box Derby four times: as the local Super Stock champion in 2019, and as a rally Super Stock points winner in 2018, 2021 and 2022.

Laura has promoted Soap Box Derby participation at community events and has been active in school STEM (science, technology engineering and math) programs by working with students in car construction and driving skills. She also mentors and encourages fellow racers and has been a driver for the SuperKids races for special needs children.

She is a graduate of Austintown Fitch High School and is majoring in psychology at the University of Kentucky, where she is a sophomore.

DAMEN VINCENT, Falconer, New York. Damen, 17, began racing in 2013 in Jamestown, New York, where he won the Stock division in 2015. He also competed in the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby as a Stock rally champion in 2017 and a Masters rally participant in 2022.

Damen has been a volunteer for the Jamestown Soap Box Derby since 2018 and became a member of the race committee in 2022. He helps with track set-up and tear-down, wheel swaps and car return at local races and rallies. He mentors fellow racers in Jamestown and during race week in Akron. He is chairman of the annual bowling tournament, which is the largest fund-raiser for the Jamestown Soap Box Derby organization.

He will be a senior at Falconer Central High School in the fall.

The awards will be presented during the awards ceremony following the 85th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby on Saturday, July 22.

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