Heads down with bright blue helmets popping out of the cars. Eyes looking forward at the red, white and blue finish line. Backs hunched over. Fifty-eight children aged 7 to 17 competed in the third annual Williamsport Soap Box Derby race.
McKinsey Sauers, 10, won in the super stock division, despite only finding out Friday night she would be a replacement driver.
Joey Larose, 11, won in the stock division Saturday afternoon.
KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
McKinsey Sauers beats Eric Ask across the finish line Saturday to win the Super Stock Championship at the Williamsport Soap Box Derby.
Both racers will go on to compete in the 75th All-American Soap Box Derby race, held in Akron, Ohio.
This was Sauers' first time competing in the soap box derby race. She found it both exciting and nerve-wracking.
The best part of the race for her was "being here and having fun." She said next year she might compete on her own.
Saturday's race was the second soap box derby event for Larose, who lost to the 2011 champion, Tyler Bolton.
While working on his car, Larose was given help to make it as fast as possible, which included putting the seat in the perfect location.
One of the lessons he learned while racing was to be confident, but not overconfident, and to shake hands after each race for good sportsmanship.
Sauers and Larose each received a Darwin Cooper Trophy during the closing ceremony in memory of the only city racer to win in Akron, back in 1951.
The opening ceremony began at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, warm and sunny, making it hot for the drivers, such as Tatium Butler, 9.
With all of the wiring in the car, it can make sitting uncomfortable, she said.
"It seems fun," Butler said after her first race. This was her first year competing.
To keep races fair, each race involves two phases, Keith Boyer, pit boss, said.
In the first phase, racers began with a slow start until their cars picked up speed, sending them quickly down Market Street. As they slammed on their brakes to avoid crashing into the hay bales at the end of the track, the winner was announced with the time difference. Many racers were less than a second apart from their opponent.
During the second phase, racers switched lanes and wheels to give each child a chance with the different variants.
Butler noticed she did better during her second phase because the wheels on her car were better.
Lane one is faster because people drive in the right lane normally, whereas people drive the opposite way in the other lane, Boyer said.
If a driver won one phase and lost the other one, the driver who won by the most time moved closer to the championship, while the loser moved on to a consolation bracket.
Cody Knorr, 13, attributed luck to his wins throughout the day.
After helping build his car last month, he practiced twice for the big race.
Families and friends lined the sidewalks with signs as they supported their races, cheering them along and reminding them to keep their heads down.
"Today is about family," Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said at the opening ceremony.
Mentors, often a driver's family member, helped assemble the car last month and prepared them for the race.
Sponsors Williamsport Sun-Gazette, the city of Williamsport, the Pennsylvania College of Technology, the Kiwanis Club of Williamsport and Backyard Broadcasting keep the race free for participants.