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Published: Saturday, 11/24/2012

Soap box derby is on course to turn profit of about $35,000


AKRON — Organizers of the All-American Soap Box Derby in northeast Ohio say the youth racing organization is expected to have a profit of roughly $35,000 for the year that ended in September, once paperwork is finalized.

President Joe Mazur told the Akron Beacon Journal the organization’s financial picture is looking better.

Organizers have been working to rebuild the organization’s popularity and its financial footing since 2010, when its economic troubles led to a fund-raising campaign that helped it clear $152,000.

The derby lost $111,000 the following year as donations decreased.

Mr. Mazur took over in mid-2011 and is aiming to expand the number of race cities from 123 to more than 200 in five years. He’s also increased focus on education and expanded memorabilia sales opportunities.

The derby lost corporate sponsorship and was sued in 2009 by a bank seeking payment on $580,000 in loans, but the city agreed to guarantee the loans. The derby turned its attention to paying the loans and finding ways to increase funding.

The financial problems inspired actor and director Corbin Bernsen to make 25 Hill, a film about a derby racer that premiered in Akron last year and generated $150,000 for the organization.

Additional money also came from foundations and grants, sales of derby car kits, and licensing agreements with cities hosting derby qualifying races.

Another boost came from adding Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. as the derby’s first national title sponsor in seven years.

The derby, which celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, started in Dayton and moved to Akron one year later, with the downhill race of gravity-powered cars held annually except during World War II.

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