Steamboat Springs About 20 local children will roll down Rockies Way in an engineless car this morning as the second annual soapbox derby in Steamboat Springs kicks off.
For weeks most of the participants have been building their soapbox cars from a kit with help from their moms, dads or mentors.
Though it takes a lot of preparation to participate, race organizer Ben Northcutt said there are 12 new racers competing today, supporting what he hopes to be the beginning of a long-standing local tradition.
Above and beyond the spirit of competition is the actual time it takes to build the car.
"That aspect is a good thing for the kids," Northcutt said.
Last year's local soapbox derby went well, with plenty of people racing and watching the kids roll down the track. The race represents only one division, which is the 9- to 16-year-olds, Northcutt said.
Though he was happy that 20 people signed up to race, which is about the same amount that participated last year, Northcutt said he'd like to see more people get involved.
Each racer today gets four chances to roll down the course, set up on Rockies Way. The one with the best times wins the competition.
The winner qualifies to race in the 65th annual All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio. Last year 389 cars raced in Akron with 18,000 people in attendance.
Ohio is where soapbox racing started.
It was discovered in Dayton after newspaper reporter Myron Scott went on an assignment to photograph children racing homemade carts down a hill in the mid-'30s in Dayton. Enthralled with what he saw, Scott talked the Dayton Daily News into sponsoring a race.
The next year the race moved to Akron, eventually becoming the All American Soap Box Derby. Scott later organized the first club and came up with the name.
Along with pioneering soapbox derbies, Scott later worked for General Motors and named the company's flagship sports car, the Corvette.
Northcutt said both boys and girls participate in soapbox racing. In Akron last year, more girls lined up at the starting line than boys.
In Steamboat Springs' race, there will be prizes for the second- and third-place winners, as well as a prize for the best-looking car and a sportsmanship award.
Racers will begin taking their marks at 9 a.m. today on Rockies Way, near the Rockies Condominiums.