Racers from ages 7 to 17 will reunite with their cars after a weeklong absence in time for the Soap Box Derby race Saturday morning on Market Street.
Last Saturday, all 58 of the racers in the stock and super stock divisions had to return their cars to the Construction Masonry Building at the Pennsylvania College of Technology for one last inspection before the big day, said Michelle Smith, soap box derby volunteer. The event is known as the derby's impoundment day.
Cars and racers are weighed so each person is given a fair opportunity to win. In the stock division, the car and rider must weigh a combined 200 pounds. In the super stock division, they must weigh 240 pounds. To make up for weighing too little, weights are included.
Above, Max Fink, son of Jason Fink, of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, left, receives a little assistance from his uncle, Tim Fink, of Montgomery, during the final weigh-in for the Williamsport Soap Box Derby at Pennsylvania College of Technology on Saturday.
The racers were given some weights during their practice runs to help them get a feel for what the real thing will feel like on Saturday.
Racers have had their car for about three weeks to run practice races, said Don Noviello, assistant race director.
On Saturday, the weather is expected to be mostly sunny with a high near 80, said Peter Jung, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in State College.
"It looks pretty good," he said. "The whole weekend looks pretty much rain-free."
Even if it does rain on race day, the event will continue.
"We race," Noviello said. "There's no way to postpone."
Since impoundment day, he has not looked at the weather forecast. He considers it bad luck.
The day's events will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the opening ceremony. The first race starts promptly at 9, said Jim Campbell, race director and executive director of Hope Enterprises.
The soap box derby race was held in Williamsport from 1940 to 1954, except during World War II. After 1954, it stopped until it was brought back in 2010. Since it was brought back, the event has been held on hot, humid days, said Dave Martinez, construction clinic director.
Martinez and Noviello were available to inspect the cars to make sure they were not damaged during the practice races.
Some of the most common problems that afflict cars affect the brake pads, steering and wheels. It takes an average of 20 to 25 minutes to inspect the cars, Noviello said.
If anything happens to the cars during the race because of a crash, volunteers try to repair the car.
On Saturday, a champion will be crowned in both divisions. Those winners will compete in Akron, Ohio, for the world race. This is Akron's 75th anniversary for the Soap Box Derby.
Until Saturday, "it's just the anticipation for the checkered flag," Martinez said.
Campbell shares Martinez's anticipation.
"I just want to give a word of thanks to everyone who has participated in the planning of this year's race," he said. "We tried to think of everything to make it a safe and enjoyable day for all involved, including spectators. We're really excited about the race to take place."