East Greenville’s Motto Competes at National Soap Box Derby Championships

Written by Jake Hallman, Staff Writer Wednesday, 12 August 2009 10:03


Alex Motto of East Greenville recently returned from a trip to the 72nd Annual American Soap Box Derby Championships in Akron, Ohio July 25 where he competed in the ages 8-13 stock division. Motto got to the nationals by winning first place in Souderton in June.

It didn’t take Alex Motto long to find his love for racing.

As a Cub Scout, Motto, who will enter the sixth grade in September, couldn’t wait for the annual pinewood derby. In the event, scouts assemble small wooden cars to race down an incline. With some help from his dad, Joe, Alex represented himself just fine in the event. Last year, Alex built the car himself and finished just as strong.

While watching a car race down a wooden track was one thing, Joe was interested in taking it a step further. And with a little research, as well as the local airing of Pottstown’s annual Soap Box Derby, Joe and Alex decided to add driving to their successful combination of building.

And as it turns out, it was time well spent.

Alex, now in his third year of Soap Box racing, recently copped his biggest accolade with a trip to the 72nd Annual American Soap Box Derby Championships in Akron, Ohio July 25.

And getting there wasn’t easy.


To earn his spot as a local All-American champ, Motto had to win the local leg of the derby at the Indian Valley Soap Box Association’s annual race this past June in Souderton. There, 38 racers in the stock division (ages 8-13) vied for the top spot in a double-elimination format. Only that one racer would qualify for nationals.

As it turned out, Motto won his first six races to advance to the winners’ bracket final. After dropping his first race, he battled back to claim the rematch in a winner-take-all finale.

“The race was really close,” Motto said. “I didn’t know who won at first; I had to listen for my name. I was happy, my mom came up and hugged me, and then I knew for a fact I won.”

As a local champ, Motto, in his number 418 car, got the chance to race on the famed Derby Downs in Akron.

"It’s fun coming down the hill, you’re doing something when you’re racing instead of just watching," Motto said. "But if you race with no brakes or have problems, it’s kind of annoying."

In Akron, only one winner moves on in every heat, which quickly pares down the 148-racer field. Motto dropped his heat race, but said it didn’t faze him much as he got to cheer on fellow members of the Keystone Rally Association, who claimed two world champions.

To get back to Akron, Motto’s path will be harder the second time around. As a former champ, he’ll now need to compete in a rally circuit from Frederick, Maryland to Easton in 20 races, while winning four along the way. But it’s a challenge he’s up to.

"Probably the best thing was hanging out in the hotel, and playing laser tag," Motto said. "I want to go back there again. Driving is fun; real fun."