News / USA

Americans Keep Soap Box Derby Tradition Alive

Keeping the Tradition of the Soap Box Derby Alivei
X
June 22, 2013 12:16 PM
The first All-American Soap Box Derby was held in the U.S. state of Ohio in the early 1930s. Since then, millions of children have gotten behind the wheel of a home-made, motor-less (gravity powered) car as it races downhill. And for many, the sport has become a family tradition with multiple generations getting involved. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to one of those families. Amy Katz narrates.
June Soh
The first All-American Soap Box Derby was held in the U.S. state of Ohio in the early 1930s. Since then, millions of children have gotten behind the wheel of a home-made, motor-less (gravity powered) car as it races downhill. And for many, the sport has become a family tradition with multiple generations getting involved.
 
Ken Tomasello’s granddaughter, Aspen, was among the competitors at the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby, an annual, day-long event on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.
 
This was the 10-year-old's second time at the event. This year, about 40 children,  ages seven to 17, raced in the hand-built cars that rely solely on gravity to move.     
 
Tomasello said Aspen has a big advantage over some her competitors as he himself, as a former racer, has accumulated over the course of more than 40 years the knowledge of what’s important and what’s not so important in running the race.
 
“When I was 13 years old, I saw a race on TV and asked my dad if he could get me into it. And he did.”
 
Tomasello said he's been hooked ever since. "I raced, and my son, my two daughters, and I have two sisters that raced and now my grandkids are racing. My son’s got three kids that are racing in the race today.”

The American tradition of Soap Box Derbies started in 1934 in Akron, Ohio. The sport was most popular across the U.S. in the late 1940s, 50s and 60s when millions of Americans watched or took part in some form of derby activity every year. 
 
Steve Danahy is the director of the Washington Soap Box Derby.
 
"Winners of [the Washington] D.C. [competition] will race at the All American Soap Box Derby in Akron, where they race with winners from other cities of the United States, and also cars from Japan, Germany, New Zealand, and Canada will be racing.  So it is kind of a world championship.”
 
Besides the actual races, the Tomasellos enjoy other elements. Children and adults get together on the weekends leading up to the events to build a car for each racer.
 
“It is a fun thing to do with your kids, and it is also a nice project to do with kids. And it is a fun competition for the kids as well. That is why we like it so much.”  
 
Tomasello’s son, Joe, who raced from age seven to 17, said he has had many fond memories with his father.
 
“We bonded a lot especially driving to races. I am keeping the family tradition since I have already had three [children racing] and now I have two more [who will race soon]. I am sure one of them won’t be able to let it die, let the tradition die. I think it will keep going. And I will be a big part to help.”
 
Joe’s daughters, Brittany and Aspen, are already planning to carry on the tradition.
 
“I love the experience. I would definitely pass on to my kids in the future," said Brittany. “When I grow up, I want to keep the family tradition going,” added Aspen.
 
At the 2013 Washington Soap Box Derby, Aspen won in the Stock division, Brittany in Super Stock and their brother Brendon came in second place in the Masters division.
 
“I feel really good, you can’t ask [for] much better than that. Awesome day,” said Ken Tomasello summing up the event. He added that the family will have another opportunity to bond when it makes the trip to the finals in Akron in July.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid