Shawn Eberly, one of the organizers for this year’s DuBois All American Soap Box Derby said the organization is hoping to increase the number of youth who participate.
April 6 and June 8 are the next race dates with the April 7 and June 9 as rain dates, Eberly said at this month’s Sandy Township Supervisors’ meeting, where he also presented the supervisors with a plaque in recognition of their support of the locally held derby.
The supervisors approved a request to use Industrial Drive from the FedEx entrance to the dead end for the run race from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on April 6. They also approved a request to use the hill for the local championship race on June 8.
The Soap Box Derby is a youth racing program which has been run nationally since 1934. World Championship finals are held each July at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio.
The DuBois Soap Box Derby is now in its 11th year of All-American Soap Box Derby competition in the DuBois Area. In 2008, the committee set out to reestablish the derby races as an annual event in DuBois, as it had been many years ago, according to the DuBois Soap Box Derby website. Prior to the 2009 derby held on West Long Avenue, it had been more than 55 years since the last soap box derby was run in DuBois. Many seniors from throughout the local area recall this annual 4th of July event taking place on Maple Avenue in DuBois from 1947 through 1953, authorities say.
The goals of the Soap Box Derby are to educate and inspire youth through fair and honest competition and mentorship. With a primary goal to advance family values, the Soap Box Derby provides an environment in which parents or other adults work hands-on with boys and girls ages 7 through 18 to instill basic skills of workmanship, the spirit of competition and the perseverance to continue a project from start to finish.
“The whole thing is kind of fading out of the area,” said Eberly. “And what’s going to end up happening is most of the people are from Bellefonte, and Milesburg, State College, so it’s already in the works to rename it Central PA Soap Box Derby, instead of DuBois All American Soap Box Derby, because there’s probably six racers from DuBois,” said Eberly.
He said his 14-year-old daughter races Masters and his 10 year old son who races Superstar are two the six locally who compete.
“We’re trying to recruit some people because they know how it’s going to end up leaving the area,” said Eberly. “And Johnson Motors is our prime sponsor, and if we end up losing that sponsor, I think it’ll end up being down there and then it won’t be back in the area, But, by the same token, 75 percent of the people from down there, they travel up here. We have races down there, rally races all over, but our two main races are up here on Industrial Drive.”
The Derby’s Education Program is a fast-growing component of the organization and includes a STEM-Based Curriculum, the Gravity Racing Challenge® STEM Team Competition and a Mini Soap Box Derby program.
“We’re trying to get more from the area so it stays here, because it’s always been DuBois All American Soap Box Derby,” said Eberly. “We hope to keep our sponsorship and keep more kids down here, so it stays in DuBois.”