When the Soap Box Derby was king

By way of the Minnesota Historical Society, we hear that Joe Garelick passed away yesterday. He was the 1938 Soap Box Derby champion in St. Paul. It was a time when 10,000 people came out to watch the Derby in St. Paul. He grew up, went off to war to be a gunner on a B-24, came home and invented a boat ladder, starting the Garelick Manufacturing Company, which still churns out marine products in St. Paul.

He was profiled in the Historical Society’s fabulous Greatest Generation series. Find the story and the video here.

  • GregS

    My brother built a soap box derby racer. We used to call them “chugs”. Not sure why.

    The coolest thing about the derby was – the kit. You got real wheel!!!! Not baby-buggy or Radio-flyer wagon wheels. Real wheels with BEARINGS!!

    The kit had real axles too! No more curtain rods.

    And it had a steering wheel, so you didn’t have to steer with your feet.

    And it had brakes!! Think about that.


  • Joe’s son David

    Thanks Greg S. You happily reminded me that my dad also referred to his champion derby car as his “chug.” You can see it in “The Greatest Generation Exhibit” at the Minnesota History Center. It has been beautifully restored. You might also enjoy watching the video referred to above. My dad invented a steering yoke for his car that he later found to be similar to the steering mechanism on the B-24 bomber he flew on during WWII.

  • dale hanson

    hi my name is dale hanson me the wife and 3 kids whant to get in to the sprt do you know where we can do the sport in minnisota