Mark Eugene Millard achieved what millions of children across of America have dreamed about… he competed in the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio! On July 22, 1937, Morris Ave. and Miller Park became a gathering place of over 5,000 spectators that came out to watch derby finalists compete for the Bloomington-Normal district title. Mark defeated 38 other competitors that day and went on to win the Central Illinois title and earn the opportunity to compete for the national title at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio, where he won his first two heats before being eliminated in the quarterfinals.
While on assignment in 1933, Dayton, Ohio, newsman Myron Scott developed the idea for the All-American Soap Box Derby as he watched a group of young boys race their homemade cars. He obtained a copyright for the idea, acquired corporate sponsorship from Chevrolet, and as they say, the rest is history. The first race was held in Dayton in 1934 but moved to Tallmadge Avenue in Akron, Ohio, the following year. Akron's downhill, curvy terrain created more favorable conditions for racing cars that must start by the force of gravity. Derby Downs, the race track used today, was built in 1936 as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration.
The official All-American Soap Box Derby rule book is lengthy. There are three divisions based on age and weight limits that kids can compete in. Adequate clothing and footwear, as well as an official AASBD helmet, must be worn during the competition. All cars must be constructed by the participants using construction plans supplied by International Soap Box Derby, Inc. Each vehicle and participant is inspected by AASBD officials before the start of each race. For more information on the All-American Soap Box Derby can be found at their official site at http://www.aasbd.org/.
Scroll through slide show below to see awards given to local soap box derby participants