Soap Box Derby Gets Bailout From Akron

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - The host city of Akron has agreed to bail out the All-American Soap Box Derby.

City Council voted Monday night to make advance payments on six years' worth of promised gas-well royalties totaling $600,000 to cover the derby's debt of $400,000 to $500,000.

Derby finances were hurt when a four-year sponsorship deal with NASCAR dried up after two years, derby CEO Jim Huntsman said.

NASCAR's help for the derby is directed at media attention, including television and newspaper advertising, NASCAR's Andrew Giangola said. NASCAR also adopted the derby in 2005 as an official Youth Initiative program and maintains that relationship, Giangola said.

In 2002, council voted to commit the royalties it receives from two gas wells at Akron Fulton International Airport, worth about $100,000 a year, to the derby. The city will apply the next few years' payments to the $600,000 advance.

This year's derby featuring homemade race cars powered down a 954-foot course by gravity will be July 21.