updated 11/29/2009 2:10:27 PM ET 2009-11-29T19:10:27

An Ohio bank is stepping up pressure on the financially strapped All-American Soap Box Derby to repay a loan.

FirstMerit Bank says it wants the organization to repay a $580,000 loan. The move comes as the Akron-based derby has gone two years without a corporate sponsor, dropping its income from $1.6 million a few years ago to $1.2 million.

In the past, companies such as Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Home Depot generally contributed about $250,000 a year plus free publicity.

Derby board chairman William Evans says the organization is committed to working with the bank. He said the derby has been making regular payments on the loan, although at times that has meant paying interest only.

About 600 finalists raced in the 2009 derby, held in July.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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