The names of more than 550 Akron-area senior citizen resounded from the PA system at Derby Downs on Aug. 31 as they were introduced before making their descent down the famous track.
The Soap Box Derby Senior Day, put on annually by the Soap Box Derby and Cleveland Clinic Akron General, was another success. The event was sold out and many seniors had the unique and exciting opportunity to race against their friends down the legendary raceway in an iconic Soap Box car.
"It’s spectacular. We’ve been doing for this a number of years with Akron General, but it’s just getting better every year," said Mark Gerberich, president and CEO of International Soap Box Derby. "All the people kinda have it on their bucket list that they want to go down ‘The Hill,’ so it’s an event that’s really taken off for us at the Derby."
Some came to Derby Downs for the first time, and some came for their second or third senior day. Some had a history with the Derby, and others were having their first experience. Some raced their husbands and wives, and some reignited old race rivalries from the 60s. However they went down, they had a ton a fun doing it.
Tim and Patricia Roy are seasoned husband and wife race rivals.
"We’ve been here the last couple years. It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve yet to beat my wife, so today’s the day," said Tim, followed by a chuckle from both himself and his wife.
"It’s really fun, especially when you’re a couple of lengths ahead and you can turn around wave behind you," said Patricia, which elicited some eye-rolling from Tim and some friendly, competitive banter between the couple. "It’s really great to see all these old folks, who may have oxygen and walkers and whatever else and they come down the hill and you see their faces and they’re lit up like a christmas tree."
Once seniors were done with their races, shuttles took them Top Side where Cleveland Clinic Akron General was hosting the health fair. Participants could talk with physicians and partake in health and blood pressure screenings at the Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame and Museum building. Lunch was provided by Golden Corral.
The Soap Box Derby Senior day is a beloved event for all involved
"It’s a really good event for our company," said Gerberich, "but it’s a really great event for the community."