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Finish Line Looms For Local Soap Box Derby

Doug Newberry
Cincinnati Soap Box Derby

Update 10/08/15, 9:40 a.m.: Cincinnati Soap Box Derby President Doug Newberry says the last race of the season is canceled. The race had been scheduled for Saturday. 

Original Post: The Cincinnati Soap Box Derby may be ending operations.  The group that organized downhill races for youth doesn't have enough support to continue beyond this season.

The Cincinnati Soap Box Derby first started in 1934.  The group stopped racing in 1978; and was revived in 2006.

But participation has dropped off and this may be the last year.  President Doug Newberry says there are fewer than ten regular racers.

“We always have an ebb and flow with the number of racers," Newberry says. "We get new kids.  Some kids drop out.  But this year we had more dropping out than joining up.”

Ten is the break-even point for a race.  He says the group’s focus has been on operating the races and not on recruiting.

Newberry also says there aren't enough adults to help.

“People are getting interested in different things,” he says.  “A small group of people who (had) been helping us quit after mid-year… so we’ve been working on kind of a skeleton staff the last half of the year.”

Raising money has also become a challenge.

“We tried to minimize the expenses to the racers by doing some fundraisers throughout the year, and we’re still doing that," Newberry says. "But we have to charge them something in order to participate.”

Newberry says the annual budget was between $5,000 and $6,000 a year. 

Credit Doug Newberry / Cincinnati Soap Box Derby
Cincinnati Soap Box Derby
The president of Cincinnati Soap Box Derby says the group worked with kids from across the city over the last nine years.

He says the payoff was greater than that because the kids got a lot out of it.

“They’re learning how to build something," Newberry says. "They’re learning about physics even though they don’t realize it. And it’s a fun afternoon. We were doing it once a month. It gave some kids something to look forward to.”

He says unless another organization volunteers to take over the races, the equipment may be donated to a Northern Kentucky group for adult racers. 

Newberry says the final scheduled race, the Milford Grand Prix, is Saturday at 9 a.m. at Park 50, 500 Techne Center Drive.  Admission is free.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.