This summer, CSU student Allison Pankoff became the first Coloradoan to win a national soap box derby since 1972.
Pankoff won first place at the FirstEnergy Rally Masters Division in the 81st All-American Soap Box Derby, held on July 21 in Akron, Ohio.
The CSU sophomore started racing when she was 9 years old. It is a family affair that started with Pankoff’s grandfather, who was the director of the local race in Colorado.
He then passed racing down to Pankoff’s father, who raced for two years. Together, Allison and her father built the ultimate soap box. It can take as long as one month to a year to build a car, all depending on the pace and the type of class the car is racing in.
Pankoff has been racing for 10 years and is now stepping away from the sport as a world champion.
“I’ve decided to officially retire now,” said Pankoff. “That was my last race ever, and it feels unreal to me still, but I’m happy to end on that.”
The age limit to continue racing was recently changed from 18 to 20, so Pankoff could continue racing for one more year if she wanted.
The All-American Soap Box Derby is a youth racing program that has been run since 1934. Each car is unpowered, relying completely on gravity to move. Derby participants compete in local championships and can qualify for a separate All-American Rally World Championship, the race Pankoff won.
“It only takes 30 seconds to make your way down the hill, but in the moment it feels like forever,” Pankoff said. “Everything slows down and every moment is delicate; you have to savor the moments that you are in the car because once you get out you can’t have any regrets.”