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Soap Box Derby festivities beginning July 20

7/17/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Shown are local participants who will compete in the All-American Soap Box Derby July 26 at Derby Downs.
Photo courtesy of the Akron Area Soap Box Derby Board of Directors
SOUTH AKRON — Approximately 10,000 spectators and 500 racers are expected to descend upon Derby Downs July 26 for the 77th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby.

Among those taking part in the event are a number of Summit County racers, including: Kendra Vandever, of Akron (Stock); Cailey Bozic, of Tallmadge (Super Stock); and Sarah Whitaker, of Norton (Masters).

The Rally champs that qualified to compete include:

  • Rally Masters: Haley Aull, of Green, and Sarah Longfellow, of Norton;
  • Rally Super Stock: Kayley Long, of Akron; Christian Viering, of Fairlawn; Alexis Sklack, of Green; Maria Fahey, of New Franklin; and Emily Harmon, Dejah Myers, Cheyenne Wilt and Danielle Wilt, all of Springfield; and
  • Rally Stock: Makayla Herrle and Dylan Theisen, of Tallmadge.

Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the International Soap Box Derby, called the annual derby a “great family event.”

“This is a great sport, it’s a great tradition and it’s got a legacy to it,” he said. “There are folks from all over the world here to compete for the world championship. There are great, cool cars to see and it’s fast-paced. Less than every minute, we have a set of cars coming down the track. If you blink, that race is over, but the next one is coming down.”

Prior to the All-American Soap Box Derby, however, there will be plenty of activities during the race week leading up to July 26.

According to Mazur, the week will get under way July 20 with the second annual Derby Downs 5K Run/Walk.

“It gives the participants an opportunity to run down the iconic Derby Downs track,” he said. “It was successful last year and we’re looking to build on to that. We think it’s going to be bigger than last year.”

The event will start at 9 a.m. on the Derby Downs track and there are various prizes for the race winners.

Registration for the run and walk is $25 before the race day and $30 on the day of the race, Mazur said.

All participants will receive a goody bag and two tickets to the All-American Soap Box Derby July 26, as well as a chance to win a pair of tickets to visit the Akron Zoo. Participants can register at www.runsignup.com/Derby Downs5K or the registration site on the homepage at www.aasbd.org.

Following the foot race July 20, the public will have an opportunity to take a run down the track in Soap Box Derby cars.

“The track will be open so that folks who want to race a derby car down the hill will be able to do that for a $20 fee,” Mazur said. “We have about 20 adult cars, and folks who want to check something off their bucket lists have an opportunity to go down the track. We started doing this about three years ago and it has been very successful.”

He said the open track will begin shortly after the 5K race.

“The time we have slated for that is from 10 until 11:30 a.m.,” Mazur said.

On July 21, the popular Parade of Champions will take place in Downtown Akron. The parade will start at Canal Park at noon and flow toward Lock 3.

“The parade, which goes right down Main Street, is a really cool event,” Mazur said. “There will be bands, there will be classic cars and there will be all the champs from all around the world. The thing that happens is that those kids come into town, and part of the tradition of derby racing is that they bring items from all over their regions and they throw them out to the people watching the parade. It’s a really great kickoff.”

Once the parade ends, he said, the racers will be introduced on stage during the Opening Ceremony at Lock 3, where they will throw out more little gifts to the crowd.

“There will also be games and activities for anyone who wants to come down and participate,” Mazur said. “And there will be food vendors.”

July 22 will include racer weigh-ins and trial runs in the Derby Downs Topside area from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., as well as the DQ Rally Challenge for rally masters from 1:30 to 6 p.m.

On July 23, the racer weigh-ins and trial runs will take place at Derby Downs from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. That day also will include the Ultimate Speed Record Attempt from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and the DQ Rally Challenge — Rally Stock/Super Stock — from 2 to 8 p.m.

The highlights for July 24 include the Rally Challenge — Ultimate Speed Xootr Wheel Race — at the Whitey Wahl Pavilion Starting Line from 8 a.m. through noon. In addition, the Open Hill will take place at the Whitey Wahl Pavilion Starting Line from 5 to 7 p.m., the Topside Show open house is set for Derby Downs from 5 to 9 p.m., and the Build and Battle Competition is slated to run from 7 to 9 p.m.

The National Super Kids Classic is set for July 25 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Derby Downs.

And, finally, the main event of race week is the All-American Soap Box Derby, which will take place July 26 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The race will feature boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 18 who have earned the trip to Akron by winning local Soap Box Derby competitions in gravity-powered race cars. They will travel from cities throughout the United States, as well as from Canada, New Zealand, Germany and Japan, according to derby officials.

“It’s a fun day to be here,” Mazur said. “It’s a lot of fun to come here and root on the kids from all over the world, and there will be plenty of food vendors.”

Tickets for the All-American Soap Box Derby are $5 each and can be purchased at the gate on race day or at the derby’s office, located at 789 Derby Downs Drive.

For more information on any of the race week events, go to www.aasbd.org.

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