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All-American Soapbox Derby coming to New Zealand

MEDIA STATEMENT: Glenfield Birkenhead Rotary Community Trust*

All-American Soapbox Derby coming to New Zealand 9 October 2002

In a New Zealand first, the Glenfield Birkenhead Rotary Community Trust* has been granted an area licence by the American-based International Soapbox Derby organisation to hold a New Zealand race on Sunday, March 2, 2003. The licence enables the Trust to organise a competition for "Super Stocks" using imported All-American Soapbox Derby cars built to the international specification.

NZ Derby director, Paul O'Brien, says a total of 20 "Super Stocks" will be arriving in New Zealand as kit sets - to be assembled by local primary and secondary school students.

"We expect that more than 300 children aged between eight and 15 years of age will be involved in the construction programme that will form part of a science and technology curriculum subject at the participating schools. Construction of the Super Stocks is planned for next month (November)," he says.

In an American context, this event is significant with thousands of children involved each year, according to Mr O'Brien.

"The 2002 World Championships held in Akron, Ohio had more than 400 children seeking a title in six different classifications. To qualify for the World Championships every competitor had to be either a state or national champion from their respective country of origin," he says.

"The Glenfield Birkenhead Rotary Community Trust wants to send a New Zealand champion to compete in Akron in July 2003 - the sixty-seventh time the event has been run since 1934.

"The Trust's mission statement is simple but challenging: 'To prepare a New Zealand Super Stock champion capable of winning the world title in Akron'.

"There has never been a non-American winner in the history of this event," Paul O'Brien says.

A visit to the International Soap Box Derby website at indicates the scale of this event.

"When you check out the list of competitors and champions, you'll see that young women feature prominently on the podium. In 2001 three of the six world champions were young women and, this year, they claimed two of the six titles."

The New Zealand event will be held in Kaipatiki Road in the North Shore City suburb of Glenfield on Sunday, March 2, 2003. However it will be preceded by at least two preliminary race days down at the NZ Sugar Refinery property in Colonial Road, Birkenhead.

Paul O'Brien says these preliminary races are useful for both practice and trial purposes.

"This gives the 17 competing schools the opportunity to select their best drivers as only five from each school can compete in the New Zealand Soapbox Derby itself down Kaipatiki Road."

At least two of the competing schools will be building their "Super Stock" derby cars in public. Westfield Shoppingtown Glenfield, one of the Derby's sponsors, has invited local primary schools, Windy Ridge and St Mary's, to build their cars in the Glenfield Mall complex during November.

Also on display in the Mall will be a completed Super Stock that is being offered as a prize in a public raffle.

"This car will be able to compete in the New Zealand Derby provided it is driven by someone who meets the All-American rules in terms of age and weight," Mr O'Brien says.

The Trust has assembled a qualified group of people to manage this event, including a former International Soapbox Champion with Akron experience as well as representatives of car clubs, motor sport and the NZ Land Transport Safety Authority.

Paul O'Brien says detailed planning of the event is now well advanced and the Trust hopes that the New Zealand Soapbox Derby will become an annual event.


For further information please contact NZ Derby director, Paul O'Brien, on (09) 486 8411 or 025 788 799, or at

* The Glenfield Birkenhead Rotary Community Trust comprises representatives of North Shore City Council's Glenfield and Birkenhead-Northcote Community Boards and the Glenfield and Birkenhead Rotary Clubs.


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