Street signs at location of finish line on the Madison Avenue, 730-foot long, Soap Box Derby course in York, PA, from 1939 until 1951 inclusive. (S. H. Smith photo)
Bury’s Hamburger car races on Madison Avenue
Officially sanctioned Soap Box Derby racing began on York’s Madison Avenue in 1939. The gravity-powered racers started in Farquhar Park, sped across Roosevelt Avenue to the finish line at Hartley Street; a 730-foot course.
The contestants were required to enlist a sponsor. The sponsor paid the cost of the official wheels, steering apparatus, and lettering on the car; all per All-American Soap Box Derby Rules. The entrants were permitted to spend $5 for materials to build their cars. Sponsor fees also paid for insurance to cover each contestant and the race. In the above photo, I’ve zoomed in on a Soap Box car, sponsored by Bury Bros. Famous Hamburgers, as it wins a heat on the Madison Avenue course in 1951.
Recently the ydr.com site has been dropping photos from YorksPast posts. Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the original photos in this post if details are cut off in the cropping of the photos, or if any have been removed from the ydr.com site.
The following photo is a wider view, with the Bury Bros. car at the left, crossing the finish line at Hartley Street: before the other two cars, at the right. At the upper right, the steep part of Madison Avenue flattens out after it crosses Roosevelt Avenue.
For a comparison, the following NOW photo is nearly the same view while standing near the Hartley Street finish line of the Madison Avenue course; utilized from 1939 until 1951 inclusive. The steep part of Madison Avenue flattens out after it crosses Roosevelt Avenue.
The Soap Box Derby was run on the Madison Avenue course until the onset of World War II; whereupon there was a four-year break. The races resumed in 1946. The local champion was an automatic entrant in the national finals at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio.
The subject of the next post in this series is the Queen Street hill course utilized for Soap Box Derby racing from 1952 through 1959. From 1939 through 1959, the Chevrolet dealership of Ammon R. Smith paid full expenses to send the local Soap Box Derby champion, each year, to compete in the nationals.
Links to other posts in this series include:
- Soap Box Derby racing in York
- Racing to the Cherry Top on Queen Street
- Bury’s in Springettsbury Township was not just Hamburgers
- 75 Years Ago, Joe Bury sells Four and a Half TONS of Hamburgers at the York Fair