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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora