Current race series

6th Annual Boxcar Derby – Mar. 29, 2014       presented by Phi Delta Theta      and Ann Arbor Active Against ALS


The officially sanctioned Soap Box Derby was an annual event in Ann Arbor for many years. During the 1950's and 1960's it was sponsored and organized by the Ann Arbor Jaycees. Since Chevrolet was a national sponsor, Jim White Chevrolet and later Rampy Chevrolet were major sponsors of the Ann Arbor event.

Local kids built their cars from scratch according to specifications established by the national body. Volunteers from the Jaycees held clinics to help kids understand the rules and guide them in the design and building of their gravity-powered vehicles.

The event was held in differenent locations over the years, among them: Main Street between Packard and Madison; Huron Parkway south of Plymouth and Main street between Scio Church and Stadium. The photo below, from the Ivory Photo Collection in the Bentley Historical Collections, is from the 1940's and was probably taken on Broadway Hill.

The winner of the Ann Arbor Derby advanced to compete in the National Derby held in Akron Ohio. While the All American Soap Box Derby is still held in many communities, and the national Akron competition continues, the Ann Arbor event disappeared sometime after the late 1960's.


In Ann Arbor sports careers started early. From choosing up sides in neighborhood baseball games to learning new skills in the city recreation program, youths of all ages practiced and dreamed of becoming the Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth of the next generation. For young Barney Oldfields, the annual soap box derby down Broadway Hill culminated months of exacting preparations.


Modern recreation