3 Local Racers Headed to World Soap Box Derby Finals

By Staff Reports | Posted in: News, Sports

(All photos: Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac)


Steamy temperatures and scorching pavement didn't faze entrants in the 2018 Greater Pittsburgh Soap Box Derby, held Sunday morning on Eden Park Boulevard in front of McKeesport Area High School.

The annual Father's Day tradition has been held for 36 consecutive years, but actually dates to the 1950s.

The top finishers in each category will be headed to the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships, to be held in July in Akron, Ohio.

Photographer Vickie Babyak braved the heat to grab these images.

Winners in the superstock division were Delia McCurdy (first), Kayla Coffield (second) and Colten Wobrak (third).

In the stock division, winners were Jacob McCurdy (first), Tony Startare (second) and Tia Kashaurer (third).

Winners in the masters' division were Hannah McCurdy (first), Gage Howard (second) and Matthew Kowalsky (third).

According to soap box derby lore, the first informal race was held in 1933 when a photographer for the Dayton Daily News organized a competition for 19 local boys, who built their race cars from scrapped wheels and pieces of wood, including soap packing crates.

The first official race was held the following year, and the derby moved across Ohio to Akron in 1935 to take advantage of that city's hillier terrain.

"Soap Box Derby" is now a trademarked term, and more than 100 sanctioned races, including the one in McKeesport, are now held throughout the world.

Above: John Kaschaver, Julie Brain, Tia Kaschaver and Michele Kaschaver.

Above: Julie, Trevor and Bryan Brain, derby director.

Above: Dan McClainy, shown with his nephew and son, won a contest in the 1980s to watch the races in Akron, Ohio, and was able to meet a few celebrities. He was so impressed that he got his nephew and son involved with the soap box derby, he said.

Above: Cameron, a vendor from Pittsburgh, and Alta from Belle Vernon try to get refreshed from the hot and humid day.

All photos by Vickie Babyak, special to Tube City Almanac. For reprints, email vbabyak@yahoo.com.

Originally published June 18, 2018.

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