Published July 18, 2019

Indiana resident’s search for winning soapbox derby car ends at the Indiana State Museum

By Renee Bruck

Jay Meyer

Jay Meyer had been searching for his winning entry into the 1971 All-American Soap Box Derby for decades, but he never really thought he’d see it again – let alone find it on display at the Indiana State Museum.

Meyer’s search finally came to an end last week during a visit to the museum where he finally saw his winning soapbox derby car again after about 40 years.

Meyer – a Dearborn County resident – gave the car a close inspection during his visit to the museum, noting the changes to it since the last time he saw it. About 30 years ago, Meyer’s father gave the car to a local man who planned to open a museum in that area.

Jay Meyer races his soapbox derby car as a youth

The soapbox car sat for years in a barn where Meyer believes the racer received a few of its scratches, but the museum never came to be. In 1997, that person donated some items to the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites – including Meyer’s winning soapbox derby car.

At the time, the museum didn’t receive much history along with the soapbox derby entry. The back panel of the car indicated the Dearborn Jaycees sponsored the car, and gold-colored wheels indicated it was in the 1971 All-American Soap Box Derby.


Jay Meyer’s 1971 All-American Soap Box Derby racer on display in Global Indiana

It’s been on display in the Global Indiana gallery for visitors to the museum to view since the museum opened in 2002.

But Meyer filled in some of the history behind the racer during his visit.

Meyer was 12 years old when he and his family built the car and began entering it into area races. He won the local Three Rivers-Chevrolet Soap Box Derby race, which earned him a spot in the All-American Race in Akron, Ohio.

The striped red, white and blue entry – nicknamed Old Glory – received its gold wheels during the 1971 race. The numbers were placed on the racer during the All-American Soap Box Derby too.

A strong believer in preserving history for future generations, Meyer had already donated the items he still had from his races, including his All-American helmet, shirt and trophies, to the local Dearborn County Historical Society to display.

Newspaper clipping from Jay Meyer’s Three Rivers-Chevrolet Derby win

Now, he’s happy to know his All-American entry continues to play a role in telling the real stories about real people and places of the Hoosier state at the Indiana State Museum.

Visitors to the Indiana State Museum can view Meyer’s winning soapbox derby car in the Global Indiana gallery on Level 2. Plan your visit here: