On June 3, 2023, Soap box cars raced down South Chevrolet Avenue towards the finish line during Flint’s 2023 Soap Box Derby. The race is part of a project, in which community participants take part in a series of building workshops on Saturdays throughout April and May. During those workshops, participants collaboratively build their vehicles alongside skilled volunteers and event sponsors.
The built vehicles then competed in the soap box racetrack on South Chevrolet Avenue, where racers plunged down the road, crossing a bridge over the Flint River and finally ending at the finish line by Kettering University. Family, friends, and spectators lined the racetrack with signs, chairs, and tents while they cheered the racers on.
Flint hosted its first Soap Box Derby in 1936 on Cadillac Street, before moving to the newly constructed Cronin Derby Downs in 1969. Soap box racing returned to Flint in 2019 after a multi-decade absence, and the annual race is now one component of a larger program that provides hands-on STEM learning in a collaborative environment that builds community partnership.
Students participating in the event are developing an interest in STEM fields, start life-long friendships, and get experience building things and using tools. Henry Scrivener, a 13-year-old Swartz Creek Middle School student and driver for his team, said working with his teammates and mentors while building his team’s soap box car has allowed him a lot of opportunities to learn about using tools.
The winner of the Super Stock Division will qualify for the 85th FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby Race Week, scheduled for July 16-22 in Akron, Ohio.