FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown


Local History


The first All American Soap Box Derby took place in Akron, Ohio in 1937. Local races were organized to send their champions to that derby. On average, more than 40,000 boys participated across the country in races that determined champions who were to go on to Akron to compete.

The first Soap Box Derby race in Port Jervis took place in the summer of 1947 and continued for ten more years until 1957. Past champions included Bill Getter and Larry Gore who repeated their victories in subsequent years. Other champions in the Port derby's early history were Rich Allee, Ray Baker, Jim Benson, Charles Saunders, Donald Elliot, Stan Kunigrel, Jack Bohan, and Earl Baker.

Over the years, races were held on the city streets and locations varied from Fowler Street to Pike Street, and finally to Jersey Avenue. The city even blacktopped the streets to accommodate the races. Unfortunately, after 1957, the derby in Port Jervis ceased to exist for 43 years.

In 1999, William Hockenberry, a local area businessman, began reminiscing about years ago when the City of Port Jervis hosted Soap Box Derby races. Hockenberry asked representatives of the local P.B.A. if they were interested in possibly starting the races again. The P.B.A. agreed to financially back the return of the soap box derby races, and thankfully, the historical event was revived.

The first race held again in the City of Port Jervis was on Sunday, August 13th, 2000. The event had 38 participants both male and female from ages 9 to 16 years of age. Geoffrey Outwater was the champion that year. The top four were awarded trophies and every youngster walked away with a Port Jervis Soap Box Derby medallion and the memories of a great day of racing for them, the audience, and the city.

The second race took place on Sunday, June 10th, 2001. That year, races were officially sanctioned by All American and raced only the Stock Division. The derby grew from 38 cars to 52. Amazingly, Geoffrey Outwater won again that year and traveled to represent the City of Port Jervis in the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.

Port's third race was held on Sunday, June 9, 2002. For the first time, the Super Stock Division was run. The local derby grew from 52 cars to 78 (62 stock and 16 super stock). That year, the winners were Max Gallo in the Stock division and in the Super Stock division, history was made as Kelsey Scott was crowned the first female Port Jervis champion. Both went to Akron, Ohio to represent Port Jervis in the All-American Derby on July 27th, 2002.

On Sunday, June 14, 2003, the derby held another derby and almost reached the centennial mark in cars, missing it by four. 96 young boys and girls gave their all for first place in their divisions. In the end, the Stock champion was Ben Wolf and Keith Yennie was victorious in the Super Stock division. Both Ben and Keith went to Akron, Ohio the week of July 21, 2003 and raced their hearts out for Port Jervis in the All-American Derby.

2004 was a repeat performance by Keith Yennie as he raced to victory lane again, this time in the Stock division. His partner in Akron this year was to be Kendra Addy in the Super Stock division. Both kids went on to the All American Derby in style as they raced to represent Port Jervis in the now-international event.

2005 was a milestone for Port as the derby was named the 4th largest in the world with its 121 drivers. The derby was still only racing two divisions, but both were filled to the max with racers representing local business owners and families. The champions crowned were Jayden Bergman in the Stock Division and Alec Martell in the Super Stock Division.

In 2006, Port Jervis was introduced to the Masters Division as eight racers were now driving in a whole new world. This car is designed to host its driver feet first down the hill with the driver lying on their back and their eyes barely visible to spectators. Conventional derby cars have kids driving leaning forward, sitting up.

2006 brought three champions to victory lane, which were Mackenzie Decker in the Stock Division, Amanda Busch in the Super Stock Division, and Kelsey Scott in the Masters Division. Kelsey made history again. First, she was Port's first female champion and in 2006, she was the city's first ever Master's champ. The three went on to represent Port Jervis in Akron for the city's sixth year at the All American Derby.

The Port Jervis Soap Box Derby has a strong history of bringing the community together for a fun-filled day and a family-friendly event. That history lives on as each year passes and the derby grows to what is now the third largest soap box derby in the world! From 1937 to the present day, this local event has been centered on three important components... kids, fun, and speed!

Local Press about our derby

Click Here to read an article about the derby from the

1957 Port Jervis Soap Box Derby

Here are scans of a Middletown Daily Record article about the last race of the original derby in Port Jervis. Click the images to see larger versions.

1957 the Last Port Derby 1    1957 the Last Port Derby 2