Albright headed for national derby
     2012-07-19      By Elizabeth Gross    elizabethgross@geringcitizen.com
Courtesy photo T.J. Albright poses with his soap box derby championship trophy. Albright is on his way to Akron, Ohio for the national championship race. 
There are certain symbols of American culture that bring back nostalgic memories. A time whenlife seemed to move at a slower pace and life was simpler. The soap box derby race reminds us of a time when boys would rummage the alleyways looking for the right soap box in order to build the best and fastest car. They would work together to build these engineless machines and race them down the best hill in town. As time passed, the soap box racer never disappeared but instead evolved into the popular event it is today. Young T.J. Albright of Scottsbluff is headed for Akron, Ohio this week to continue this age-old American tradition.

For the Albright’s, soap box derby racing has been a family affair for six eventful years. All three of the Albright’s children have been derby racers. The tradition started when their oldest daughter Kelsey began racing against other kids at the Ogallala track. A soap box derby works similar to NASCAR as racers who place earn points that help them qualify for the national race in Akron, Ohio. Another option is to be a member of a soap box derby club. If a racer wins their club race, they then qualify them for the national race.

The All-American Soap Box Derby takes places in Akron, Ohio. According to the events website, the race began in 1933 when a photographer from the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News came across three boys racing homemade soap box cars down a slope. The photographer began some of the first races down the hill giving prizes to the winners. That 75-year-old tradition continues to this day. It brings soap box derby racers from around the country for this once in a life time event. The winner of the national race wins a $50,000 scholarship.

T.J. and his sister Olivia are current members of the Oregon Trail Soap Box Derby a local derby club here in the Scottsbluff/ Gering area. “It’s fun you get to meet a lot of different people from out of town,” said Albright. Last month, T.J. qualified for the All-American Soap Box Derby race. His sister Olivia came very close to qualifying coming in second to T.J. The last local racer to qualify for the national race was during the 1970s.

Last week, T.J.’s car was shipped to Akron for racing inspection. When he arrives this week there will be a large opening ceremony where he will throw out to the crowd tokens that represent his hometown of Scottsbluff.

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