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Champions, Cheaters, and Childhood Dreams: Memories of the All-American Soap Box Derby Hardcover – July 1, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
The chapter on The Durham Champions is superb. Sam Moore was an old friend, and a good one. Sam never told me the things he told Melanie. He was a real credit to Durham.
Gronen said,"My hat is off to the sincere and honest boys and girls who raced in the Soap Box Derby.I extend an apology to them." I take my hat off to HIM for HIS honesty.
The title Champions, Cheaters, and Childhood Dreams is the only title this book can have.
"Cheaters?" Yes, on both sides of the fence.
"Childhood Dreams?" Yes, I had them. My son made them come true. As an old SBD friend said,"Winning the local and going to Akron was like dying and going straight to heaven."
And it wasn't until I read this book that I realized that anyone could cheat in a soapbox derby. Imagine my surprise when I heard that it happened again this year.
I found especially poignant the author's interviews with race participants. It is powerful stuff. After so many years, the gut-wrenching disappointments and the jubilation over wins, obviously, are still potently felt by participants.
IT COVERS SOME STORIES FROM THE DERBY THAT I DIDN'T REALIZE HAPPENED.. SUCH AS THE LINE OF BLACK CHAMPS FROM DURHAM NORTH CAROLINA.. AND I HAVE BEEN A DERBY FAN FOR MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS.
Originating during the thirties, what had been a simple kids game would grow to gigantic proportions and come to symbolize America at its finest. Akron, Ohio would become the Mecca of the soapbox derby. Every summer hundreds of boys would gather to race against each other. Qualifing for the Akron race was a feat in itself, each participant already having won several other matches to qualify for the honor.
Winning the soapbox derby meant riches, fame, fortune, college scholarships, the moon! The sponsors were guaranteed popularity to the infinite power, it seemed everyone came out on top! Times would pass, though, and the soapbox derby would face problems. There were inevitable instances of racisim and sexism when African-American children and girls got involved. In the seventies the derby was nearly destroyed when a key sponser pulled out in 1972 and a cheating scandal occurred in 1973. Fortunately it came back, though, and, while not as popular as it once was, still has a definite following. The history of this sport, those involved, and the numerous persona, both good and bad, that made up the sport are covered in "Champions, Cheaters, and Childhood Dreams".
Melanie Payne has gone to great detail to describe the origins of soapbox derby racing and those responsible for it. We learn how it progressed from a simple kid's hobby to a father-son (and eventually father-daughter) bonding experience, how it grew and grew and grew. There are the noble stories of intergration of black youths, of girl drivers coming into their own.Read more ›