There is an old saying that all roads lead to Rome, but in the case of worldwide completive soap box derby racing, all roads lead to Derby Downs in Akron.
This week marks the 81st First Energy All-American Soap Box Derby. Saturday is the culmination of the week-long event that has brought drivers from all over to compete in.
Every year, around 1,300 licensed races are held across the world. Anyone wanting to give it a go in Akron has two ways paths to choose from to earn their spot on its hallowed track.
The first way is to win a sponsored race that happens once a year, thus enabling the victor to attend Derby Downs in July. The second way is a tad longer but no less challenging — drivers who compete in multiple races throughout the season must accumulate a total of 180 points. Those who do will automatically be invited to Akron's championship event.
During race week, local champions compete against each other and local world champions are pitted against each other. According to race officials, at the end of each race day, three local All-American and three Rally World champions are chosen.
Each division is divided into categories consisting of three different car types. The categories are:
- Stock Car Division — Ready to assemble cars driven by boys and girls 7 to 13-years-old
- Super Stock Car Division — Larger cars for ages 9 to 18-years-old
- The Masters Division — Sweet sophistication. These cars are sleeker and faster and for drivers who are ages 10 to 20-years old.
Derby Downs was built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration and has been home to the derby for nearly eight decades.
More information about the 81st First Energy All-American Soap Box Derby as well as an event schedule can be found here.