Local teen wins national soap-box racing title

James Kehr is walking away from soap-box racing at the top of his game‚ as the national champion of the superstock division.

Monday, August 11, 2003


The Souderton resident‚ 16‚ took the top prize two weeks ago in Muncie‚ Ind.‚ after losing to an Emmaus racer and then coming back to beat him twice.

All told‚ Kehr beat out 31 other racers for the National Derby Rally championship‚ getting a $500 savings bond and a 6-foot-tall trophy.

“We’re on cloud nine‚” said James’ mother‚ Judy. “James had intended it to be his last race and retire out there. To have gotten a first-place finish was a great surprise.”

And it made for a memorable last run.

Kehr‚ who raced four years in the stock division and two more in the superstock division‚ said the key to getting to the finish line first is finding a good patch of road and sticking to it.

“You just have to hit the groove and drive perfectly straight‚” he said.

Kehr’s shining moment came after a trip to Akron‚ Ohio‚ where he took a race before dropping out of the single-elimination field.

He did‚ however‚ win an award for his soap box’s originality and decoration.

The soon-to-be Souderton Area High School junior‚ who soon will‚ as his mom puts it‚ “trade in his derby car for a real set of wheels‚” plans to hang his soap box in his garage. With his free time‚ he said he’s hoping to land spots on the school baseball and golf teams.

But he won’t leave the soap-box scene entirely.

“It is in some ways sad because of all the friends I made in the area‚” he said about retiring‚ “but I’ll still go to races to watch and hang out.”