Soap Box Derby Races Hitting Finish Line

LA MESA -- After 14 years of three-times a year racing events, the Soap Box Derby will cross its  own finish line in La Mesa this weekend.
The La Mesa Kiwanis Club, the main sponsor and organizer of the races, voted recently to end its sponsorship of the event, citing other priorities the club membership wanted to pursue.
Steve Blake, the lone "yes vote" for continuing the races said other club priorities needed attention and, after 12 years, the interest from La Mesa families in the racing events seemed to be waning.
"It took a lot out of a few people that did most of the work on these events,'' Blake said. "I'm still hoping some sponsor will step forward, but if not, these races will be our last.''
Blake said the recent sale of the Drew Ford car dealership to the Penske auto group has also left the perpetual sponsorship of the Soap Box events that Drew Ford supported in some doubt as well.
Soap Box Derby is a national racing program in which fathers, sons and daughters build and race the cars at events throughout the region in hopes of winning enough to earn a spot in the national races held each summer in Akron, Ohio.
La Mesa has had some national racers over the years, but now locals interested in this sport will need to go to San Diego, where the races will continue with a local club there.
The Soap Box Derby racing in La Mesa (see video below) has taken place on a steady downslope that extends much of the length of the La Mesa Middle School property along Junior High Drive. The street would be closed on race days as bales of hay helped protect wayward drivers from overrunning the finish line.
Over the years, the Kiwanians developed quite a sophisticated operation with electronic finish lines and a sound system that could deliver race results along the length of the course immediately after each race.
"It will be sad to see it end,'' said Blake (shown fixing car with a racer in photo right).

Still, the final races on Saturday, Nov. 1, won't be cutting back on any of the traditions.

The public is invited to come watch and enjoy a modern version of the classic American tradition. Breakfast and lunch items will be prepared and sold by the Lake Murray Kiwanis Club and the Boy Scout troop they sponsor.

Actually two races in the one-day event, this Rally Race bracketing offers a double-elimination tournament followed by a single-elimination in three divisions – stock, super stock, and master. Heats get underway by 9 or 9:30 a.m. after registration and weigh-in, and continue until about 4 p.m. This race is open to both boys and girls, ages 7 to 17, from throughout the Southern California region, plus Arizona and Southern Nevada.

For more information, contact Blake at 619-461-1608.

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Tags: Drew Ford, La Mesa Kiwanis Club, La Mesa Today, La Mesa newspaper, Penske Auto, Soap Box Derby, Steve Blake


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Comment by Lisa Moore on October 27, 2014 at 8:06pm

What a shame!  A big loss for not only for the Soap Box in La Mesa but also the children and their families who participate in the annual La Mesa Soap Box.  I really hope another sponsor can be found. 

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