All-American Disappointment - Tire Review Magazine

All-American Disappointment

The All-American Soap Box Derby runs this weekend at Derby Downs in Akron.

For those of you too young to remember, the Soap Box Derby program – also know as the Gravity Grand Prix – was founded decades ago as a great father-child summer project. This was before video games and today’s so-called “extreme” sports – pretty much glorified bike riding and skateboarding.

This year 600 racers and their carefully crafted motorless race cars showed up in Akron for the world finals – 600 kids from all over the world. This weekend, world champions will be crowned in various age and car divisions.

So who hasn’t show up? Any kind of committed national sponsor.

Once upon a day, Chevy was the program’s national sponsor for many, many years. So, too, were some tire companies, but all short term. Today, the program struggles to make ends meet, despite the countless thousands of volunteer hours that keep the program on track. It lacks any kind of national sponsor, and lost its limited national exposure when telecasts of the finals were discontinued a few years ago. Without a major supporter, the Derby program has a hard time getting enough minor sponsor support.

The cost to be a national sponsor? Well, I dare say it would be a heck of a lot less than some of the sponsorship activities we see companies get involved in. For a tire company it should be a no-brainer, especially if the sponsorship was leveraged and helped bring store traffic to its dealers. Plus, it would deliver a positive message to young people looking for something meaningful and positive to do.


If you have comments to share, send to me at [email protected].

– Jim Smith

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