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WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of H. Con. Res. 79, which authorizes the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby, and was passed by voice vote. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Mr. Speaker, I proudly sponsor this resolution, allowing the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby Association to hold the 66th Annual Greater Washington Soap Box Derby on the Capitol grounds on Saturday, June 16th.
"Our nation's tradition of soap box racing began in 1934, when Myron E. Scott, a photographer for the Dayton Daily News saw boys racing engineless cars down a hill. This inspired Mr. Scott to hold a race and award the winner with a "loving cup."
"The first year, the race took place in Dayton, Ohio, and the following year the race was moved to Akron due to the city's numerous hills.
"With the hard work of countless civics organizations, a permanent track site for the youth racing classic was created with the assistance of the Works Progress Administration.
"Soap box derby racing in our nation's capital has a long and rich tradition as well.
"In 1938, Norman Rocca beat out 223 other racers to win the inaugural Greater Washington Soap Box Derby, which was then held on New Hampshire Avenue.
"Over the years, thousands of the region's young people have participated in this great race.
"Although the location has moved from the original site on New Hampshire to Capitol Hill, the essence of the race has remained the same: home made gravity-powered cars, the spirit of competition, and the pure joy of racing.
"The soap box derby consists of dozens of drivers, both boys and girls ranging in age from 8 to 17. These racers are divided into three divisions: stock, super stock, and masters. The local winner of each division will automatically qualify to compete with racers from around the world in the 70th All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio on July 26th.
"The festivities in Akron begin when the racers receive a police escort into town and conclude in the winner's circle with the awarding of scholarships and merchandise. In between, the racers and their families participate in a whirlwind of activities that leave them with enduring friendships and memories to last a lifetime.
"Mr. Speaker, this event has been called "the greatest amateur racing event in the world" and it is an excellent opportunity for the contestants from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia to learn basic building skills while gaining a real sense of accomplishment.
"I strongly encourage my colleagues to join with me and the other original co-sponsors, Representatives Frank Wolf, James Moran, Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Al Wynn, and Chris Van Hollen, in supporting this resolution.