Q. I have been trying to find information out about the Offical Soap Box Derby Races that were held in Wilmington in 1969 and 1970 and sponsored by Rainey Chevrolet. Can you point out where I might locate that information?
A. There were soap box derby races in Wilmington going back as far as the 1940s, but the official ones did not begin until 1965. By the time of the ones you asked about in 1969, it had grown into a large community event sponsored by the StarNews and Rainey Chevrolet.
The directors of this fourth annual event were Bill Rainey and Jimmy Copeland. In addition to the race itself, there were parades, parties and the local winner went on to compete in the nationals in Akron, Ohio. By this time most of the 42 cars and drivers were sponsored by local businesses.
The serious job of car inspections went to Chief Inspector George West and Inspector Charles Wolfe. The pre-race parade started at 11 a.m. at Front and Nun streets. The actual race began at 2 p.m. on South 13th St. and ran a course between Marstellar Street and Greenfield Street.
Some of the races and their sponsors were Guy Preston – City Dixie Laundry, Jimmy Bell – Royal Crown Cola, Julius Cattle – Rhodes Inc, Elmond Parker – Pepsi. The winner, by a few feet over Bruce Harvell, was Earl Spivey, sponsored by Junior Order Council 67. In addition to his trip to Akron, Earl won the Armstrong Trophy.
Date posted: December 20, 2012
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