Recently, my colleague here at Special Collections & Archives, Toni VandenBos, received an e-mail from CNN wanting any images we had of Dayton’s Soap Box Derby. The images will be used in the Mike Rowe show, Somebody’s Got to Do It. The upcoming show deals with the men and women trying to keep Soap Box Derby racing alive and well. The producers wanted some historic images of the Soap Box Derby which, “go figure,” was first held in Dayton, Ohio.
Currently, the Soap Box Derby capital is Akron, but according to the Derby’s website at http://www.soapboxderby.org/
The idea of the Soap Box Derby® grew out of a photographic assignment of Dayton, Ohio, newsman Myron Scott. He came across a group of boys racing their homemade cars in the summer of 1933, and was so impressed with the event that he acquired a copyright to Soap Box Derby and went in search of a corporate sponsor to establish a national program.
Eventually, Scott talked Chevrolet into sponsoring the endeavor and the first race was held in the summer of 1933. The following year the race moved to Akron, Ohio, which provided hillier terrain on which the cars could pick-up more speed. To this day, Akron is the Soap Box Derby capital of the world.
It is rarely surprising anymore to discover another famous first for the Gem City. Below are some images of the first Soap Box Derby, held in Dayton, OH, in 1933.