Locals prepare for world championship race

By Wayne Allen

July 26, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

Jaclyn Burchett and Josh Russell of Scioto County are busy preparing for the World Championship Soapbox Derby race set to take place Saturday in Akron.

Burchett was the stock champion at the Portsmouth Soap Box Derby and Russell was the winner of the super stock division.

The Civic Forum Soapbox Derby was conducted on Saturday June 15, 2013, on Kendall Ave in Portsmouth. Thirty-four racers competed in two divisions. The stock division had 16 racers and the super stock division had 18 racers.

Todd Book, advisor to Burchett and Russell, said the two have spent the week in Akron working on their cars and taking practice runs down the Derby Downs track.

“I think they start racing at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. There are over 120 cars in the stock division competing and over 120 cars in the super stock division,” Book said. “At the race on Saturday there will be kids from all over the country and the world.”

In a released statement Burchett said, “My dad and I have been working hard on the car, and I am very excited for race day.”

Josh Russell added, “The hill is challenging in Akron. I hope we do well and bring back some trophies to Portsmouth.”

Book said derby downs is a three-lane track and both Burchett and Russell will be racing in Lane 1 during their first heat.

“If they make it through, then they will progress. They have to make it through five races to be assured a trophy,” Book said.

When asked what Burchett and Russell were doing to prepare for the race Book said, “They are doing practice runs and working on their cars. They are making sure their car is setup properly and get everything aligned right. Over the next couple of days the kids will have some free time and some of them are going to go to Cedar Point and have some fun before the race.”

According to, www.aasbd.org, “The Soap Box Derby is a youth racing program which has run nationally since 1934. World Championship finals are held each July at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio.

The idea of the Soap Box Derby grew out of a photographic assignment of Dayton, Ohio, newsman Myron Scott . He covered a race of boy-built cars in his home community and was so impressed with this event that he acquired a copyright for the idea and began development of a similar program on a national scale.

The first All-American race was held in Dayton in 1934. The following year, the race was moved to Akron because of its central location and hilly terrain. In 1936, Akron civic leaders recognized the need for a permanent track site for the youth racing classic and, through the efforts of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Derby Downs became a reality. The goals of the Soap Box Derby program have not changed since it began in 1934. They are to teach youngsters some of the basic skills of workmanship, the spirit of competition and the perseverance to continue a project once it has begun.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.