WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – While NASCAR drivers prepared for the Pocono 400 Saturday, younger drivers were competing in a different kind of race in Lycoming County – the annual Williamsport Soap Box Derby.
Two at a time, dozens of drivers raced down Market Street in Williamsport. The annual Soap Box Derby brings families together even before race day. Some assembly is required.
“You get the kids involved,” says Andrew Soboleski of Montgomery. “They put the brake pads on, put the wheels on, put the top shell on. It’s an all day event basically for them.”
Bracket are used to keep track of the winners in two divisions. Cheering sections can be seen up and down the hill.
“This is a blast,” says Paul Schwarzer of Williamsport “it gives me a chance to spend the day with my son. My wife and father-in-law are down the hill too, watching the race. It is a family affair, it really is.”
Each car is designed the same. Inside you can see the blue bow tie, that’s for steering. There is a brake pedal for the very end. Some drivers shared their secrets on how they reach more than 20 mph on gravity alone.
“Keeping your head down and staying in your car really low so the wind goes right over the top of you,” says Maiya Yonkin.
Austin Schwarzer adds “depending on what side you are on, you have to go towards the cones. If you are on the right side you want to go towards the left, if you are on the left side go towards the right.”
There are trophies to be won, for a competition that dates back to the 1940’s. Electronic timing calls out the winners.
It takes a lot of volunteers to run the Soap Box Derby here in Williamsport. Here at the finish line volunteers load up the cars onto trailers to take them back up the hill for yet another run down Market Street.”
How much fun do you have when you are going your very fastest we asked driver Dayzi Soboleski? “It is like a roller coaster,” she replies.
The Soap Box Derby Technical Director says because his organization owns all of the cars, it doesn’t cost drivers anything to participate.