The All-American Soap Box Derby is opening up its iconic track to more and more outside events.
President Joe Mazur said that numerous organizations are holding public and private events at the asphalt track and in its accompanying buildings.
The races, meetings and camps will conservatively bring in $30,000 to $50,000 a year, he estimated.
“It’s the only way you can operate something like this,” he said of the derby property off of George Washington Avenue in South Akron. “We want more events on Derby Downs.”
The Akron-based nonprofit used to restrict the use of the facility to derby races for fear of harming the track. But Mazur said that other kinds of events — among them, perhaps a circus in 2014 — won’t mar the track surface and will build publicity for the nonprofit gravity racing sport.
So the organization will sponsor many firsts in coming months — everything from weeklong summer camps in June at which 9- to 12-year-old kids will build derby race cars to a regional meeting in June for Jack and Jill of America, a nonprofit leadership organization for African-American youths.
The derby also will be home to a city of Akron first, the Color Me Rad 5K in August in which bystanders will pelt white-clad runners with paint bombs to benefit the derby on Aug. 17.
Almost 100 such races are held nationwide, four of them in Ohio to benefit local charities. To register and get a 10 percent discount on the entrance fee, visit www.color merad.com and enter the promo code “Radderby.”
At least three companies will hold corporate events at Derby Downs, the city of Akron will hold Grandparents Day on June 13 and the derby will sponsor its own 5K — another first — at its 76th world championships July 21-27.
For more details, call Mazur at 330-733-8723.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.