SCHENECTADY — Weigh-ins have begun for the 11th annual Capital District Soap Box Derby race.
This will be the third year the race will be held in Schenectady, and the process of making sure the cars meet weight criteria for the race was underway Tuesday inside the Schenectady Armory. Each car is weighed both empty and with the pilot in the car.
Each division has its own weight restrictions.
This year’s Soap Box Derby race is directed by Paul Webster and will be hosted by four local chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity through the George Biddle Kelley Education Foundation. It is the first year the race is being organized by an African-American group.
“Traditionally, the history of Soap Box has been a sport where only white kids were participating,” said Mark Squadere, NYS Soap Box Derby director. “It’s changing and becoming more inclusive, especially with the involvement of more groups of color and urban communities.”
There are more than 1,000 Soap Box Derby races held nationwide each year, with Schenectady being one of 16 races nationwide that includes all four divisions: the stock division, super stock division, masters division, and the super kids division.
This year’s race is helped by involvement of students from Schenectady City School District’s “My Brothers Keeper” program. There are 27 soap box cars, but Webster expects around 37 racers, ages 6 to 20 to participate on Saturday.
Dean Akinleye, assistant director of the Soap Box Derby race, expects many more participants next year.
Akinleye’s goal for this year is continuity, enjoyment for the kids, and letting people know the race is still on, despite the new ownership.
Webster’s daughter, Imani, is among those racing this year — her third year as a soap box racer.
The race will be on Franklin Street, starting at the intersection with Nott Terrace, in front of the Stewart’s Shop. It will end at Jay Street in front of City Hall. Franklin and Jay streets will be closed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate the races.