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Motion Pictures The Soap Box Derby in 1963

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ryan, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 17,707

    from Austin, TX
    Staff Member

  2. Mazooma1
    Joined: Jun 5, 2007
    Posts: 17,643


    What kid didn't dream of being in the "Soap Box Derby?

  3. Half-Fast Motors
    Joined: Nov 14, 2009
    Posts: 205

    Half-Fast Motors

  4. Nick Flores
    Joined: Aug 13, 2009
    Posts: 1,348

    Nick Flores

    I certainly agree with the competitive side of this story. For me it began with bicycles, if I wasn't the fastest kid in the neighborhood I was pissed. Of course that moved on to go carts, mini bikes, and eventually cars. Thanks for the cool post, Ryan and to Mazooma for the neat-o plans!
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  5. Abomb
    Joined: Oct 14, 2006
    Posts: 1,659


    That is an awesome video.

    It is a shame that for kids, winning and losing is on it's way out of fashion in America...
  6. 31whitey
    Joined: Jan 2, 2007
    Posts: 2,214


    I remember this being kinda of a big deal even years grandparents were from Ohio, but it was popular everywhere Im guessing

    My family would ask "Don"t you wana do this?".... and I'd be like "Huh.. theres a minibike right there,.. are you nuts?"...

    The cool thing is... Im hopping, most are still family built.
  7. Dad took me to the local Chev dealer in maybe 1958 or 1959 and bought an official set of wheels and axles. We built the car that is shown in Mazooma1's post. It took a long time to finish and I don't remember where we actually raced but I got to race it once and lost pretty badly as I remember. I couldn't get the hang of keeping it going in a straight line because the steering was real sloppy. What I realized with this post is that it is one of the few things we did together over an extended period of time. Dad only made about $1 an hour in those days so investing in those wheels must have been quite a strain on the family budget. Haven't thought about that event in my life in a long time. Thanks for bringing it back.
  8. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,917

    need louvers ?

    Aw crap... Now you got me thinking again! First it was the lifelong desire for the Go Kart that I couldn't have as a kid, then the revisiting of the mini bike that I did manage to sneek ownership of as a kid. Both aided and encouraged by the H.A.M.B. members personal time wasting O/T projects. Now my brain clicks to this really cool victorian era mining town in the south of the state that happens to have an adult soap box derby on fourth of July... ( Bisbee, by the way - home of the Shady Dell and Dot's Diner) Might just have to look into blowing that cool plan Mazooma posted up and doing it big boy sized.
    Another thought, when I was a kid in the early seventies, the soap box deal was pretty much dead in St. Paul where I lived. When I got to Arizona, even more so. What is the status of the event these days? Does it still happen? Do kids still do this? I would think tht they might explode at the thought of competition and possible winning...
  9. My home town had a soap box derby course right in the middle of town, and for a long time it was pretty well known. I've done a bit of research into it and there are lots of references to kids from my town winning races all over North America... it was part of the culture back then and something we were proud of. By the time I came along the craze was over, and the road the course was on has since been moved and obliterated. I do remember the guy who lived across the street from me growing up had a half-built cart in his garage, wish I had it now. I still keep my eye out for old cars, trophies, anything, never had much luck, seems like it was wiped off the history books.

    Some of us are still building these things though...

  10. Devin LaDawri
    Joined: Feb 2, 2009
    Posts: 19

    Devin LaDawri
    from detroit

    Makes me wanna kill an X-box.
  11. Big A, do they still race down the canyon and make that hard 90 at B Hill? I lived in Bisbee in '69-'70 and they raced right past my house. A few guys got nearly killed every year. We had the "Welcome Race Fans" banner in our living room until the local constabulary requested its return or suffer the consequences.
  12. b-bop
    Joined: May 19, 2008
    Posts: 710


    I dreamed of racing pro soapbox as a kid, but the folks would not support it. So we raced on the street with all the other punks. I got older but never grew up. So now with all my +50 buddies (one is 74) we still race for laughs followed by BS and beer. Inspired by the S.F.V.I.S.B.F. we started G.O.F.E.R.S.(Goofy Old Farts Elite Racing Series)
  13. rixrex
    Joined: Jun 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,434


    Anybody here remember racing derby on that track on the westside of San Antonio? at Culebra and Loop410W. for me it was late 50s ,lightweight green and white car with a fat kid casting his fat to the wind...
  14. Back in 1963 I raced the soap box derby in Lubbock Texas. (Yeah, there is one hill in Lubbock to ride down). My dad and I built the car together. It was the first driving and racing experience I had. I got third place and never made it to Akron. I competed for three years and never did win anything but a 4" tall trophy.....

    Those were simplier days back then......
  15. they still race em in my uncles town. they do races in the small towns around the area and every easter is the series final, its a pretty big event they close off the main street an race down there, pretty much the whole town turns out.

    BTW there called billy carts over here and theres not so many rules. but there isnt and i dont think there ever was a national title. i do remeber a big race at moomba (big festival in melbourne, the state capital) was televised and every thing but i dont think they do it anymore (dont televise it at least.)
  16. 40Standard
    Joined: Jul 30, 2005
    Posts: 5,519

    from Indy

    I was in it in 1963-64-65 still have the plaques, 1 metal (2nd place) and 1 helmet
  17. JackieTreehorn
    Joined: Jan 12, 2011
    Posts: 21


    Racing teaches kids things that team sports don't. There needs to be more of it these days. Nowadays, in youth team sports they tell all the kids they're winners. When I was racing, losing sucked and it made you work harder and think smarter so you wouldn't get beat next time. Most people think it's just a bunch of kids playing with toys, but there's great life lessons that can be learned in derby.
  18. terrarodder
    Joined: Sep 9, 2005
    Posts: 1,102

    from EASTERN PA

    For anybody living in the Allentown area, we have a nice collection of vintage soap box cars at the America on Wheels Museum. Starting with one from the early 30's. Neat to see how it all started.
  19. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 7,481


    When I was a kid in the 50's I lusted for the Akron event to be covered in the news reel shown before the movies. That and college and pro football games being shown were highlights for me. I remember all the big time coverage of the event as shown in the cool film clip shown here. Geez, do you suppose that tiny trophy was for Akron, hope not, size does matter. We built a few orange crate cars and thought they were way cool. My grandad helped me build one using a little round nail keg for the front end, wow, a streamliner!! Fun days! ~sololobo~
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
    Joined: Jul 29, 2008
    Posts: 284


    This guy I know bought this a few years ago, pretty sweet. I cant remember how old it was mid to late 60s I think...

  21. Joe Didio
    Joined: Oct 7, 2006
    Posts: 94

    Joe Didio

    Me and my 3 brothers competed in the Tidewater SOAP BOX DERBY (Virginia) during the 60's. We each won races but never the big prize. But in the end each of us and all the other boys were winners. What it taught me and my brothers thru our Dad was how to use our hand to build something which in itself was the real reward. This ability to use my hands is something I enjoy to this day. I'm a hot rodder and a builder. I enjoyed building and racing my SOAP BOX racer years ago. The joy remains solid today as I'm building a Model A coupe which I hope to be driving soon.

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  22. Cool video. I always wanted to race in Akron as a kid, but never had the privilege.

    The world championships are in Akron every late July if you ever get the oppertunity to check it out.
  23. weathrmn
    Joined: Apr 15, 2008
    Posts: 284


    My wife and mother wouldn't let my daughter race quarter midgets. So we got into soap box. We won our local in '94 and '97 and went to Akron. One thing I learned quick. There's no throttle pedal, only a brake pedal. It's "free wheeeelin" (rascals)
  24. 21tat
    Joined: Jun 8, 2006
    Posts: 830


    Good one! Thanks.
  25. OahuEli
    Joined: Dec 27, 2008
    Posts: 4,765

    from Hawaii

    Ryan, thanks for posting this. Boy this thread brought back memories! I won the first Guam Soap Box Derby in 1970. Here's a picture of my car. I learned a lot by designing and building this but mostly remember about how itchy the fiberglass was. It was lots of fun and even though I got my ass KICKED in Akron I cherish the memories, particularly the creativity in the car designs by other kids. Met a lot of nice people, toured the Chevrolet Design Studio in Detroit, met Ed Cole and pissed off the chaperons because I ordered lobster every night.
    I don't know if they still do the Soap Box Derby today, but if they did I'd encourage my grandchildren to go for it. The lessons learned have stuck with me to this day, just like itchy fiberglass. :D
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2014
  26. grego31
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 447

    from Sac, CA

    Holy crap, Small world! My neighbor in Guam who got me into soap box went to Akron, I won the Guam Soap box in 1989 and went to Akron and got my ass handed to me too! All those rich kids who had their aerospace dads or dads buddies build them a car, jerks!!! Best memories I had was making the car out of the wood and fiberglass. All that sanding and shaping. My dad even let me paint them. I guess thats where my racing and hot rodding began. Trying to squeak out that little extra by moving weights around.
    My girls always ask me about the trophies, helmets and wheels that I kept hold of, guess one day I can pass on the super competitive streak that was born unto me in that time frame onto them. Screw that everyone is a winner crap! You lose, try harder!!

  27. OahuEli
    Joined: Dec 27, 2008
    Posts: 4,765

    from Hawaii

    [​IMG] <table border="0" cellspacing="0" cols="1" frame="VOID" rules="NONE"> <colgroup><col width="808"></colgroup> <tbody> <tr> <td align="LEFT" width="808" height="82">Small world indeed! Thats cool! I heard somewhere that the rules were changed and now the kids can have help. To me that takes a lot away from the original idea, as the kids need to learn how to do stuff on their own. Thats how they learn what does work, what doesn't work and how to persevere in difficult situations like cutting 1/4" angle iron with a hack saw. (blisters for days!) Stuff like that builds integrity. Winning is great, but its only good if its really earned. And you're right, if you lose, try harder next time, don't throw a tantrum and quit. </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>
    Like I said earlier, I'd encourage my grandkids to do it, but it would be done like grandpa did it. Thats the only way for them to learn.
  28. flamingokid
    Joined: Jan 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,077


    I raced BMX back in the golden era of the 70s.I know what you mean,you're only as good as your last race.Or only as bad.It taught me to train,prep my bikes properly,and have spares of most things,as there were 5 motos in the NBA races and a lot of opportunity to break stuff.I guess we carry those early lessons into adulthood.
  29. SoCal Merc
    Joined: Jul 26, 2007
    Posts: 584

    SoCal Merc
    from SoCal

    The last couple of years I've been to a car show In San Pedro. There has been a soap box race going on at the same time, right near Point Fermin Park.

    Pretty cool show too!
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  30. alsancle
    Joined: Nov 30, 2005
    Posts: 1,540


    The soapbox derby was great. I had an uncle that grew up in Akron in the late 40s/early 50s and he raced. I couldn't wait to build my own car. Here I am in my second year which was 1977, little mishap in the first heat, thank god for double elimination. I think I won 7 straight heats after that. There I am in the last heat and with my trophy. Got smoked in at the All American in Akron but it was a great experience. I still have my car (thanks Dad!) my trophy, my jacket, etc. If I can every build a garage I'm going to do a neat display.

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