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Three to be inducted into Derby Hall of Fame

7/24/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Rick Acker
Alan Howe
Mark Scuderi
Photos courtesy of the All-American Soap Box Derby
SOUTH AKRON — On July 26, a trio of long-time All-American Soap Box Derby volunteers will be inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame.

Rick Acker of Akron, Alan Howe of Columbus and Mark Scuderi of Rochester, New York, were selected from a field of 19 “well-deserving candidates from throughout North America,” said Joe Mazur, president and CEO of the International Soap Box Derby.

“The limit is three [inductees] per year, and 19 was a record number of nominees for the Hall of Fame,” he said. “That just tells you the depth of volunteers and the quality of people we have out there. And they are nominated by someone, so there are people out there who understand the dedication these people have had to our program in helping to shape its future.”

The derby’s Hall of Fame, which has been in operation since 1997, currently has 62 members, Mazur said.

“It’s one of the elite areas for us to recognize the service of the volunteers and contributors to our organization,” he said. “Induction is a significant honor because to be considered, a candidate must dedicate at least 20 years of service on the local or national level or support the youth racing program through a significant financial or sponsorship contribution.”

According to derby officials, this year’s inductees include:

  • Acker, who raced as a boy in Akron in the early 1960s and has been a long-time volunteer for the local Akron and the All-American organizations. He served on the local Board of Directors from 1974 until 1990, was Akron local president in 1989 and race director in 1990. Acker was a member of the All-American’s National Control Board for many years and has served as chief inspector for the Masters division since 2007.

“Rick has been a long-time member of the racing commission, and since I’ve been here, he has been a true asset to the program,” Mazur said. “I respect Rick and I respect his opinion.”

  • Howe, who was assistant director of the Washington, D.C., Soap Box Derby from 1993 to 1999, and has been director of the Columbus race since 2002. He also served on the All-American Board of Directors from 2004 to 2011.

“Alan has not only been a member of the All-American’s Rally Commission since 2003, but he was also chairman of the commission [from 2005 to 2012],” Mazur said. “In that role, he helped to shape that whole division and led the charge to the start of the Rally Challenge.”

  • Scuderi, who competed in the Rochester race from 1968 through 1970. He helped establish the Gold Coast, Florida, Soap Box Derby in 1984 and relaunched the Rochester race in 1995. He has served as local Rochester race director since 1995 and has been a regional director for the All-American organization since 2001. Scuderi has directed the most local and Rally races in Soap Box Derby history and was the first to run an indoor Rally race.

“Mark is a member of the regional directors and through being a race director in Rochester, New York, and also a regional director, he’s been very helpful in moving the organization to where it’s at today,” Mazur said. “Mark’s passion for the derby has led to four Rochester locals, and that’s unique in itself. It’s been an instrumental part of the growth in New York.”

The three new inductees will be honored July 26 during the Hall of Fame’s race day awards program as part of this year’s 77th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby, Mazur said. The event, which will take place at the Akron Civic Theatre at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. [For more on the All-American Soap Box Derby race July 26, see “Soap Box Derby festivities beginning July 20” in the July 17, 2014, issue or visit the archives at www.akron.com.]

“That program will be their official induction into the Hall of Fame,” he said. “That is where they receive a plaque with their picture on it. Also, they can elect to have somebody speak on their behalf.”

According to Mazur, the plaques the inductees receive will be identical to the plaques that will hang permanently in the Hall of Fame.

“We have the Hall of Fame in the building here at Topside, off of George Washington Boulevard,” he said. “All of the plaques are on the wall, so everyone can see those who have been recognized. The Hall of Fame is open to the public, free of charge, Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding race week.”

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