MARTINSBURG – Bucky’s Ltd. Auto Body will hold its annual Norwalk Soapbox Derby in Martinsburg this Saturday.
Held on Queen Street each June, the race is part of the National All-American Soap Box Derby, which is a youth running program that has been around since 1934. It is the 22nd annual soap box derby, according to Trey Knepper, director of the Norwalk Association of the Soapbox Derby.
On the same hill in downtown Martinsburg where children raced in the 1930s, Queen Street will be converted into a family-friendly race track, complete with fast cars, checkered flags and flashing lights for derby competition in three categories: masters, super stock and stock .
“It’s an annual event, which makes it special, and it’s always nice to come downtown. It’s a great vibe,” Knepper said. “We love the excitement it brings to the kids. It’s great to see them involved in an activity that they can really have a big part in.
Knepper explained that it’s good to know that kids are mostly involved in building the cars, but even more important that they consider ways to incorporate science to make cars faster.
“To see them get involved in the science of that and sportsmanship is nurtured,” he said. “Plus, a lot of them even make lifelong friends through the soapbox derby. I have made lifelong friends through the soapbox derby, and now some of those friends even have their own children participating in the event. It’s cool to see that the circle is complete.
Knepper spoke about how he loves seeing the event bring people downtown as a community to support its young people.
“It’s great, especially in today’s world, to see all these different groups come together. Between Main Street Martinsburg, the city of Martinsburg and all of our race day sponsors and the kids and families, it’s great to see how everyone comes together to make this happen,” he said.
The Bucky’s Ltd. Auto Body Norwalk Soap Box Derby is the last surviving soap box derby in the area.
This year’s race will have its opening ceremonies around 7:15 am and the race will start at 8:00 am.
Knepper said that because there are fewer entrants this year — all from the Eastern Panhandle — if anyone wants to come out and watch the race, anytime late morning or lunchtime would be great for viewing.
The race is still held at Red Hill, where locals competed in the 1950s. The hill is located on Queen Street, just below the intersection with King Street and Town Square.
The Norwalk Soap Box Derby is sponsored by Bucky’s LTD and Main Street Martinsburg.
The winning runners in each class are sent by the Norwalk Soap Box Derby organization to compete in the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio in July. Martinsburg produced a world champion in Garret Kysar, who won the crown in 2006.