You may know Ogallala as the cowboy capital of Nebraska. But it's also home to a nationally recognized soap box derby track.
"Soap box derby has been racing for more than 80 years nationally," local race director Dave Barrett said. "But in Ogallala, we built a track here in 2006. Our inaugural race was in 2007. We took about two months to build the track." At least three races are held at the track each year, and local support was the key to making it all happen. "The reason it ended up here, is the tremendous group of people that got together and applied their skills," Barrett said. "The community foundation really helped, along with the Optimist Club, the Moose Lodge, the Elks Lodge, all of these organizations all came together and contributed to this. There are way too many groups to mention, but we were able to do it."
There was an effort to build a soap box derby track in Ogallala in 2001, but the effort fell short. In 2006, another push was made to get it built, and it happened. Barrett says it takes both a good driver, and a really good car to win. He also says that being involved with the soap box derby is great for families. Everyone in the family works together to achieve a goal. "We race to 1,000th of a second over an 800-foot track, so it can be really fun, and any little bobble can cost you the race," Barrett said.
The derby track brings people in from Kansas City, Denver, Omaha, and Des Moines. "The farthest I think anyone came is South Carolina. There was a family who came from there and raced here," Barrett said. As you can imagine, that has a big impact on the local economy.
The public is encouraged to come check out the derby races. The track features a very good concession stand. The next race is coming up on August 2nd and 3rd.