Museum program to feature early soap box derby drivers

Mar. 15—HIGH POINT — "High Point's Soap Box Derbies" will be the topic of this month's High Point Historical Society meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday at the High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave.

The program is being held in conjunction with the museum's current exhibition, "The Need for Speed: Soap Box Derby Racing in High Point," which will remain on display through the end of March. It will feature interviews with three panelists who will discuss their memories of racing in the High Point Soap Box Derby:

—Harrison "Bud" Lyon of Durham, the first African-American youth to win High Point's derby in 1954. Lyon grew up in Durham but competed in the High Point race because Durham no longer sponsored a derby.

—Bill Blair Jr., who participated in High Point's first soap box derby in 1951. Blair's family has a long history of racing in High Point and beyond. His father, Bill Blair Sr., was one of the pioneers of NASCAR.

—Gail Simpson, one of the first girls to race and the first to win High Point's derby in 1972. She will discuss her memories of winning High Point's final race and competing at the nationals in Akron, Ohio.

The program is free and open to the public.

While at the museum, attendees are encouraged to check out the "Need for Speed" exhibit, which includes a recently conserved racer driven by the late Henry Clyde Williams Jr. in the 1953 High Point Soap Box Derby; a pair of racing helmets from derbies held in the early 1950s; a series of enlarged vintage photos from the High Point races of yesteryear; and a video featuring interviews with Lyon and Williams.