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The All-American 1936 Soap Box Derby – The Gravity Grand Prix

For a little bit of off the beaten path Sunday entertainment, early Soap Box Derby photos are featured today, and an excellent video below showing a film of the 1936 running of the national runoffs. Watch as it is described how the series was run at the time, including the big event that year in Akron, Ohio, only three years after it first began in 1933.

The photo above is from Bridgeport, CT, and shows the running of only one of over a hundred regional races held at the time. The event was run there on July 25, 1936, over a course that was 1,050 feet long. It was sponsored by Cochrane Chevrolet Company (Chevrolet was the national sponsor) and the Post Publishing Company.

The photo below was taken in Albany, NY, where that city’s first race was held in 1940. Chevrolet dealers in the area and the Albany Times Union locally sponsored the Derby. The racing continued off and on in the New York Capitol region until the seventies, when it ended there as the series started to fall out of favor at the time.

You can learn the complete history of the Derby at You can also watch a film, Kid Auto Races at Venice starting Charlie Chaplin at what may have been the first event of its type in the land, and also see photos of many early derby cars here on The Old Motor. Video courtesy of USAutoIndustry.

4 responses to “The All-American 1936 Soap Box Derby – The Gravity Grand Prix

  1. Growing up in Akron, the All-American Derby was a really big deal. I just purchased a Derby car that friend raced from 1956 through 1959 with all the associated memorabilia for my collection. Thanks for posting the cool video.

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