Erie-Ottawa International Airport and Liberty Aviation Museum set to host Soap Box Derby®

Gravity Racing Challenge® STEM School Race

PORT CLINTON, Ohio, (April 17, 2015)– The Liberty Aviation Museum and Erie-Ottawa International Airport will be hosting a Soap Box Derby® Gravity Racing Challenge STEM School Race Saturday, May 2, 2015. The event is being held to promote the STEM initiative to help increase students’ interest in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The race is part of the International Soap Box Derby’s (ISBD) Gravity Racing Challenge (GRC) program. Promoting the STEM initiative in education through gravity racing, the GRC program is designed to provide K-12 educators and students with meaningful, project- and standards-based, intercurricular learning opportunities. Educators are successfully implementing the GRC program in classrooms and after-school, summer or enrichment programs and clubs worldwide.

“Airports are flat. Don’t you need a hill or a sloped grade suitable for a race of this nature?” was the first question posed by Liberty Aviation Museum Operations Director Jeff Sondles when approached about this project. “‘Where is the hill?’ is generally the first question I expect to hear following any mention of this project,” adds Sondles. “But the ISBD has already addressed that question by showing us a variety of hydraulic lift trailers and static ramp examples readily available and used at other venues.” He adds “This is a unique opportunity to partner with local schools to help them meet their STEM objectives, and perhaps plant the seeds for the next generation of engineers.”

The Museum will be working with educators from the surrounding area to place Soap Box Derby kits into schools. Teams of up to 10 students will assemble their Stock or Super Stock cars in hopes of building the fastest Soap Box Derby car.

“10 GRC Racing Teams from throughout Ohio are already registered with another 11 still to be confirmed.” said ISBD Education Director Linda Hubbell.  Linda added “Once local school administrators, educators and businesses see this event first hand we see the interest in these events take off in the subsequent years”.

“We’re excited to partner with the Liberty Aviation Museum, and the Erie-Ottawa International Airport to bring a Gravity Racing Challenge race to Northwest Ohio,” said Derby President & CEO Joe Mazur. “It will be great to watch school teams compete on a Taxi way of the airport.”

The GRC team competition, first held in Akron in May, 2010, featured two teams. In 2014 there were 120 teams at the world famous Derby Downs Track in Akron. For the first time since the program’s inception, GRC races were held outside of Akron in 2014. Education races were held in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio and Rochester, N.Y. In 2015 races will be added in Port Clinton and in Macon, Georgia.

Funding for school teams participating and competing in the GRC program is being obtained through grants, partnerships, or donations from community organizations and businesses. With Soap Box Derby car kits purchased from the International Soap Box Derby through these funding sources, teams of students and teachers will assemble and fine-tune their race cars for the GRC school team races.

“Community support has fueled the growth of the entire program,” added Mazur. “Our partners recognize the tremendous opportunity to grow the education side of the International Soap Box Derby.” 

About ISBD
The International Soap Box Derby is the recognized governing body of Soap Box Derby racing and includes the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby and the Gravity Racing Challenge. The ISBD also operates the world famous Derby Downs Track where more than 70 events are held annually. The Derby dates back to 1934, when the first All-American race was held in Dayton, Ohio. It has grown to more than 600 races in 115 racing districts throughout the world each year. Participants between the ages of 7 and 20 build gravity-powered cars in hopes of qualifying for the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby at Derby Downs in Akron. The Gravity Racing Challenge is the Derby’s school-based STEM initiative, providing educational opportunities for K-12 youth worldwide. 

Schedule of Event

9:301am – 10:00am   Arrival of teams and inspections of vehicles

11:00am  – Official check in/and scale weigh in

Noon  – Opening Ceremonies followed by Sponsor’s Races, Dignitary Races, Photo Opportunities followed by Gravity Racing Challenge

Erie-Ottawa International Airport

3255 East State Road

Port Clinton, Ohio 43452





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