Tears streamed down Karlye Murphy’s face before her car came to a complete stop at the end of the stretch.
The 17-year-old from Hilton, New York didn’t know it yet, but she had just made soapbox derby history.
Her tears fell harder as the message came over the loudspeaker. Murphy was the All-American Soap Box Derby Champion for the Rally Super Stock division, becoming the first person to ever win four All-American titles.
“I’m just totally blown away,” Murphy said after her win. “I’m so glad I was able to make history.”
Murphy ended a stellar week of derby racing by winning Saturday’s FirstEnergy All-American Soapbox Derby World Championships. She had also won the All-Star Super Stock Division on Thursday and the AUI Rally Super Stock Challenge on Wednesday, becoming the first person to win all three titles in one week.
“She’s the GOAT (greatest of all time) of soapbox racing,” said Jeff Iula, historian of soapbox racing and former executive director of the All-American Soap Box Derby.
Murphy first won an All-American title in the local Super Stock division in 2015 at the age of 10. The following year she won the rally stock division. In 2021 she became Rally Super Stock Champion.
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She attributed her success to practice and hard work.
“Even with the World Cup, it’s still nerve-wracking and all,” she said. “Every time I drive down that hill, I try my best to think of it as just another rally race.”
Seven victories in soapbox races
Rain and two race breaks due to bad weather couldn’t dampen the excitement of the more than 300 racers who took part.
As the final heat of each division crossed the finish line, there were plenty of tears, hugs and big grins.
Murphy was one of seven champions on Saturday.
Ayva David of Ocala, Fla. won the local stock category for the Derby’s youngest entrants, beating out racers from Virginia and Washington in the final heat.
Eleni Fischer of Columbus won the local Superstock winners’ battle. Fischer said she was “a bit speechless” after her win.
Alexandra Uhler of Dubois, Pennsylvania won the local championship.
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In the Derby’s rally divisions, competitors qualify for the All-American by earning points in multiple races during the Derby season.
Brayden Locher of Owensboro, Kentucky took the top spot in the rally stock and burst into tears when his name was announced.
Cash Drriggers of Tarrytown, Georgia became a two-time winner by winning the Rally Masters.
Justin Roda of Sterling, Ohio won the National Super Kids Classic, a derby race in which racers with disabilities compete in a two-person derby car along with a co-driver.
Northeast Ohioans take home honors at the Soap Box Derby
When Amy Getz left for her last World Championships, she wanted to be as big as possible. The 20-year-old from North Canton finished third in the local Masters division, her best result after eight trips to the Worlds.
“It feels great,” Getz said after her last race. “I was really hoping that I would end up on a high note and I did. That’s all I could wish for from today.”
Getz also finished third in Tuesday’s AAA Local Masters Challenge.
Ahead of the day’s final heats, 9-year-old Kameron Wyant said he was surprised to find himself in the top nine. This year was the resident of Warren’s first year of racing.
Wyant’s favorite part about derby racing: “You can ride down a hill which is fun.”
He finished third in the local stock division.
Akron native Hunter Case, 9, finished ninth in the rally stock division. He said his favorite part about running down the hill is going fast.
For a full list of winners, visit www.soapboxderby.org.