West Lafayette, Indiana resident and Purdue mechanical engineering student Abby Mills just won the 2019 All-American Soap Box Derby world championship in Akron, Ohio. I am happy for her as she represents the town where I lived for 33 years; the university where I graduated, and the engineering discipline I have spent my adult life working at. Bravo for this outstanding accomplishment.
As a young boy in South Bend, Indiana, I remember when the soap box derby was run there. My best friend Rusty, his brother Tallie, and their father Paul, an engineer that my father worked with, constructed a soap box car that won the local event. They went on to compete in the national event in Akron, Ohio. Rusty and I later scavenged some of the parts of that car to make one of our first powered go-carts. All of this reinforced my native interest in cars, racing and anything that moved under its own power.
Tragically, in 1969 Tallie died in an automobile accident. He survived his military experience during the VietNam War only to be killed stateside in a car.
Although I never raced a soap box car myself, I’m glad that bright young people like Tallie and Abby Mills have done so and continue to do it so well.