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Sunshine & Cheer at APEGNB Soap Box Derby


The 8th Annual Saint John Soap Box Derby was well attended and saw 35 teams raced to the finish line. It was a warm sunny day full of excitement with teammates, parents, children, Pit crews, school staff, sponsors and volunteers cheering the derby racers down to the finish line in over 160 races! More than 200 students worked together in the pit lanes and all the drivers showed amazing team spirit as they shook hands after every race. This year, JDI companies were pleased to support 5 amazing racers for 5 local schools.  The Soap Box Derby is a major fundraiser for the PALS in the Park Program for students.



“The Soapbox Derby brings together partners, sponsors, schools and community groups to have one day of racing that creates a great team environment and gives back to the community,” says Deborah Lawton, a representative from Lily Lake Pavilion, “This year a very special person - Bob Capson - was recognized as our first honourary Race Marshall of the Soapbox Derby. Sadly, Bob passed away two days prior to the event. Bob was a founding member of the Lily Lake Pavilion and a critical part of the Lily Lake Pavilion being refurbished and reopened for the community. He took great pleasure in the community programming for our youth. Bob was a strong supporter of the Derby and a pillar of the community. Gwen Karatzios, Bob's daughter let us know that Bob was smiling down on the derby, and brought us sunshine." 

“Sponsoring schools and supporting the annual Soapbox Derby is important to JDI and all others who partner to make this event a success. As a result of the 8 derbies to date, over 12,000 students have taken part in the PALS in the Park program,” Deborah Fisher, PALS Coordinator says, “In fact, 80 school visits took place this year alone as a result of the funds raised by the Soapbox Derby. The activities they get to participate in complement the school curriculum. Thank you to all who contribute time, expertise and financial support to make this a reality!”

“I started racing soapbox derby cars when I was very young, and I’ve been with the event since it started back in 2011,” says Jared Meade, Derby Committee member & Technical Director of the event. “It’s nice to be able to transfer those skills to give so many children in the community the opportunity to experience what it is to drive race cars.”   Jared, who is passionate about racing, is employed at CFM.

“We had 35 drivers and approximately 200 children in the pit crew, and everyone had a blast. I am so glad that we did this,!” says Shelby Gallant, Co-Chair of Derby Committee.

Presented by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (APEGNB) Saint John Branch, the derby is a major source of funding for the PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) in the Park program. The program is hosted in partnership by the Lily Lake Pavilion, the City of Saint John Naturalist Program, PALS and the Anglophone School District – South. In total, approximately 1700 students participate in the PALS in the Park program each year. Proceeds from the Derby provide opportunities for participating schools as well as other PALS schools of Greater Saint John to enjoy the many offerings of Rockwood Park. These activities complement the science and physical education curriculum for several students.

Ed Vail, Director, Facilities, J.D. Irving Project Engineering, has volunteered for the cause on multiple years "The Soap Box Derby has been a great opportunity to see the community come together for such a great cause. It has been a pleasure to work with such a wonderful group of volunteers that’s main goal is the children. The children learn teamwork and sportsmanship while having a great time cheering for their teams and the other drivers. I never hesitate when I am called to help with the Derby and I look forward to next year. " Ed helps with transporting the  cars up the hill after the races, which is crucial for so many races to take place through the day.

  Soap Box Derby - Cars Going Back - 2019


One of the engineering aspects of the event is that the cars are gravity-powered, and the participants get to experience how fast they can go without a motor. The event is very technical to ensure equality and fairness. After each race, the tires of the competing derby cars are exchanged to compensate for undue advantage if any. Each team competed in a minimum of two races, on each lane. The teams which won got to compete in more races, and the overall winners earned a spot to compete in the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship Race held in Akron, Ohio.  

  Soap Box Derby - Tire Change - 2019


The races were extremely close! The timings of 1st and 2nd place overall in Stock class were separated by only 0.006 seconds! There were a total of 163 races at the event. The derby cars touched speeds of up to 37 km/hour down Cranston Avenue!  

JDI PALS partners sponsored 5 cars in the event this year, with many other PALS partners, businesses, and groups sponsoring the 30 other derby cars.

• Millidgeville North School – J.D. Irving, Limited 

• Centennial School – Atlantic Towing, co-sponsored by Mariner Partners 

• Lakewood Heights – Sunbury Transport

• Glen Falls Elementary School – Irving Paper 

• Seaside Park Elementary School (The ‘Ottermobile’) – Irving Pulp & Paper 


Congratulations to this year’s top contestants:

  Soap box derby - winners - 2019


Top Four in Stock Division:

1. APEGNB Signed Car (driver: Caiden Bean), sponsored by APEGNB

2. Lakewood Heights School (driver: Kyle Raid), sponsored by Sunbury Transport

3. Lily Lake Pavilion (driver: Grace Dobson) 

4. APEGNB Plain Car (driver: Kendrick Pyke), sponsored by APEGNB


Top Four Super Stock Division:  

1. Ink Graphics (driver: Aiden Lamb), sponsored by Ink Graphics 

2. Westfield School (driver: Bryce McLennan), sponsored by The Medicine Shoppe, Starkey’s Garage, Keel Construction, Grass Roots Bar & Grill, Town of Grand Bay-Westfield

3. Hampton Middle School (driver: Payton Garnett), sponsored by MC Ventilation

4. Loch Lomond (driver: Lincoln Daigle), sponsored by Saint John Airport/Dillon Consulting


The winning driver and car from each division will have the chance to move on to compete in Ohio. 

Thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors, schools and community members who made this year’s event possible! Special thanks to the valuable partners in supporting the PALS in the Park program at Rockwood Park: APEGNB, the Hatheway Pavilion at Lily Lake, Anglophone School District – South, the City of Saint John, and PALS. 


About Lily Lake Pavilion 

Lily Lake Pavilion Inc., a registered charity & non-profit organization, operates the Hatheway Pavilion at Lily Lake and Lily’s Casual Lakeside Dining located downstairs in the Pavilion. 100% of the profit from the operations of the Pavilion and Lily’s are invested back into community programming in beautiful Rockwood Park. Children need an opportunity to experience the outdoor activities at Rockwood Park that will help contribute to practicing a healthy lifestyle. Healthy students in the present, equals a healthy community in the future.   


About PALS 

PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) is an internationally and nationally honored anti-poverty initiative, co-founded in 2000 by Mr. J.K. Irving and the Anglophone South School District. Since its inception, PALS has grown to include more than 150 partners and close to 30 schools focused on realizing the potential of young people in the province. PALS partners help impact children’s academic achievements, attendance, school spirit, motivation, social skills, sports activity, and cultural awareness. Volunteer activities include mentoring, coaching, serving breakfast, offering career guidance, organizing after school clubs, and helping behind the scenes. To date, the JDI team has invested over 90,000 volunteer hours with PALS.