As the school year comes to a close, children and youths ages 7 to 17 are practicing for the Soap Box Derby race next month.
Drivers were helped by their parents or guardians putting together their cars at a recent clinic. The process helps them understand how the car works, said Jim Campbell, race director and executive director of Hope Enterprises.
For about 2 1/2 hours, the racers worked to reassemble their racers from previous years.
Williamsport Soap Box Derby drivers and their parents or guardians recently participated in a clinic to reassemble racers from previous years and get initial instruction for this year’s race on June 16. More photos on Page A-6.
"There's still enough to be done and children and families get the experience of putting the car together, understanding how it works," Campbell said. "It's the beginning of how to operate the car for first-time participants."
Twenty-six drivers of the super stock derby cars, usually driven by the older racers with a 240-pound weight limit for driver and car, worked in the morning, while 32 younger racers built their stock derby cars in the afternoon. Stock cars and drivers can weigh up to 200 pounds. The cars are smaller and more narrow than those in the super stock class.
"The event was all about the drivers who will be participating in the race and their families coming to our construction site" at the Masonry Lab at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Campbell said. "The families come prepared to put the cars together. They weren't completely torn apart from last year. They pick up and finish off the construction of it. It went very well."
Drivers drew a name out of a container, which gave them a car number and its accompanying sponsor.
After the cars were assembled, each one was inspected to check that everything was correctly put together.
Following the inspection, the children were told to practice for the big race on June 16 down Market Street and given driving and safety tips, which included do's and don'ts and how to sit in and operate the car.
On June 9, cars will be inspected again to make sure everything is safe.
"We keep the cars for the last week, ready to race on the 16th," Campbell said.
Soap Box Derby events were hosted in Williamsport from 1940 to 1954, except for during World War II.
"Then the race evidently went away," he said. "We brought it back in 2010. It's a real special event for children and their families."
Each year, a champion is crowned in both divisions with the winners qualifying to compete in Akron, Ohio, for the world race. This is Akron's 75th anniversary for the Soap Box Derby.
"Our two kids will go out and represent Williamsport," Campbell said.