Soap Box Derby

Soap Box Derby racers are no stranger to speed, but those who aren’t familiar with the sport recently got the chance to jump into the driver’s seat of the built-from-scratch vehicles, propelled only by gravity.

Nicholas Solis was one of the many Naperville youngsters who were racing for the first time—but that didn’t stop him from having a veteran’s attitude.

“Through all the races I won,” said Solis, “I felt really confident.”

Solis and other racers, ages 8 to 17, were competing in a Rookie Race, which aims to attract newcomers and their families to the small sport.
The soap box cars can reach speeds up to 20-to-30 miles per hour, and this fact is not lost on new racers.

“A lot of them are apprehensive the first time,” said James Jedd, who is a member of the Greater Chicago Soap Box Derby Association—the organizers responsible for the event. “Once they go down the first time and see how easy it is and safe… the second time down is a piece of cake.”

Those in the Rookie Race use stock cars, the easiest type of soap box car to build and race. The cars in the race were provided to racers by event organizers.

The Soap Box Derby found its roots in Dayton, Ohio back in the days of the Depression, but it’s still popular to this day. Colby Brancamp, one of the rookie racers, had a simple reason for its longevity—“Because it’s fun!”

And at the end of the day, Solis was crowned Rookie Race champion. “I felt very inspired and I was very glad I won.”

And with that attitude, Solis might be down the road of soap box success.


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