Soap Box Derby, Box 101, 1958


This derby took place on July 11, 1958 in Stockton.

The pilot’s T-shirts in the images all read Karl Ross Post 16, American Legion. Safe to assume this is about a yearly event to see who qualifies for the All American Derby Down in Akron, Ohio Soap Box Derby. That’s where the real prize money is in form of scholarships.

The negative box has few markings related to the images of the cars photographed that day

#50 is sponsored by Canepa Auto Wash, Stockton

#89 is sponsored by California Music Merchant. Driver is Dick Graham and Joel writes “+family” next to this entry.

#98 is sponsored by House of Murphy

#84 is sponsored by Hughes Chemical, Lodi

I’ve tried to organize the 27 negatives a bit in sections. As usual, Joel made sure to have sufficient back up copies. I’m only showing the images I find representative.

Arriving at the site on the back of a flatbed … no seatbelts, no restraints … July 11, 1958
Unloading the soap box race cars, July 11, 1958

The man-made slope is at Stockton Field according to an article in the Stockton Record in 1959. (The 1959 Derby moves to the El Dorado Bridge over Calaveras.)

Ready for start, Dick Graham in #89 for California Music Merchants, July 11, 1958
#47 with Steve for Lorry’s Market versus #89 with Dick for California Music Merchants, July 11, 1958
Out of the gate, unknown, FIssion Fuse and House of Murphy, July 11, 1958

And of course, Joel photographed a few of the arrivals. You wish you could be in two places at the same time ! Looking at the next image, one would believe this is the same race.

Fission Fuse wins this race, July 11, 1958
#20 wins this race, observe the checkered flag ! July 11, 1958
#50 Canepa Auto Wash is in the farmost right lane.
Car without markings wins, #50 Canepa Auto Wash in the middle lane, July 11, 1958
#89 has a slight lead on #65 in this part of the race, July 11, 1958
#65 wins this race over #89 Dick Graham, July 11, 1958

The two images above suggest again that Joel may have used an assistant at the finish line. Unless each race is run twice. The camera’s are not moving when the images are taken, the audience and background are sharp, the cars are somewhat blurry, all within expectation for cameras with sturdy support.

#89 is first over the line, Dick Graham wins the 1958 Derby overall ! July 11, 1958

The rest of the images are images of the various participants of the Karl Ross Station 16 with their cars and trophies.

#98, Steve Dinubilo for House of Murphy, July 11, 1958
#98, Steve Dinubilo for House of Murphy, July 11, 1958
#50 with Ray for Canepas Auto Wash, July 11, 1958
#84 for Hughes Chemical Inc, Lodi
#89 with Dick Graham for California Music Merchants, July 11, 1958
#89 with Dick Graham for California Music Merchants, July 11, 1958

And Joel took quite a few group shots … showing few more:

Group shots of the racers, trophies and support staff back home, July 11, 1958
Shot of the racer with trophy back home, July 11, 1958

And then there’s the loading up and driving home with the trofees.

The drive back home with a decked out winner’s car. July 11, 1958
The drive back home with a decked out winner’s car. July 11, 1958

Joel must have been following in a car to pull this succession of images off.

The car procession continues, July 11, 1958
The drive back home with a decked out winner’s car. July 11, 1958

Let’s say that safety was a bit less strict than it would be in 2022. But these kids had fun.

I do have the 1959 newspaper clipping of that year’s Soap Box Derby, Dick Graham was mentioned as the winner for 1958 with few other interesting tidbits. I’ll write more about that in the near future.

Cheers !


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: