Twenty-six kids between the ages of 7 and 17 raced past the school building as they competed in the 10th annual Marietta Soap Box Derby.
Although there was not a call to “start your engines,” an announcer did give the name of each racer and the organization that was sponsoring their soap box car.
For each group, two cars rolled down individual ramps that are 4 feet high with a 4.8 percent slope onto a 500-foot, narrow asphalt track lined with bales of hay.
The long and lean soap box cars — that each weigh less than 240 pounds, including the driver — quietly rolled over the finish line that was under a large silver metal arch strung with white and black checkered flags.
The best time
The drivers stayed tucked as low as possible making only their helmets visible during the short races.
“The great thing about the soap box derby is you don’t have to be a star athlete,” said Devan Seabaugh, the director of the race.
Seabaugh said every participant is a winner for having the courage to roll onto the track.
The winners of the two divisions, stock and super stock, earned places in the world championship races in Akron, Ohio.
The top speed at Marietta’s track is typically 25 mph.
Each heat is done twice with the drivers switching lanes, and the kid with the best average time moved forward in the bracket.
The closest race between two drivers was a difference of only .005 seconds from the time the first car crossed the finish line to when the second car crossed.
Former drivers stay in race
The Kiwanis Club of Marietta started the event in 2004, which is now an officially sanctioned race of the All-American Soap Box Derby International.
Seabaugh said this year’s competition had a lot of first-time racers.
And after 10 years of offering the program, Seabaugh said, “We have had our first generation of kids age out.”
One such racer is 22-year-old Leah Meade, who started racing soap box cars at age 10.
In 2008, Meade placed third in the world master’s race, which is a division where the racer lays back instead of sitting and leaning forward like Saturday’s races.
Meade said she enjoyed the hobby because it is family oriented and allowed her to spend time with her father.
“The daddy-daughter bonding was the best,” Meade said.
Meade said part of the draw to racing when she was younger was the sheer thrill of competition.
“Once you race once, you want to win,” Meade said.
Meade, now a marketing student at West Georgia Tech who lives in Dallas, joined the Kiwanis Club in April as a way to give back.
“Kiwanis gave me an awesome experience when I raced soap box here in Marietta,” Meade said.
In the stock division, first place went to Paul Harris of Smyrna, a fifth-grade student at Nickajack Elementary. Blake Bierdman of Powder Springs won second place and Muriel Hanback of Acworth won third.
In the super stock division, first place went to Savannah Simms of Bremen, a sophomore at Bremen High School; second went to Katy Williams of Atlanta, and third to Wesley Hanback of Acworth.