Derby Drivers Gear Up For Hill City Soap Box Classic

Lynchburg, VA- Families across Lynchburg are gearing up for the Hill City Classic Soap Box Derby Saturday at Falwell Airport.

Racers ages 7 to 17 are allowed to compete, and two winners will go on to race in the national championship in Ohio.

We caught up with some drivers and dads making last minute adjustments. One team had a minor setback this week when their box car brakes didn't pass inspection. Friday they were in the shop making sure the car was safe, but still speedy.

"Usually the word we hear most is 'awesome,'" said Race Director Steve Smallshaw.

"For a kid there's really not much you can do that's more exciting than that, to build something of your own and then race it down a hill at 30 plus miles an hour," he said.

"The idea that they could have a child racecar immediately connected them to the sport," said dad Matt Bradner, who's helping his son get ready for the race.

24 kids will climb into these box cars and race down this hill for the top time. And after weeks of drilling and tightening every bolt, the kids have gotten lessons in patience and physics.

"These are kids who've never turned a wrench before or learned how a pulley operates," said Smallshaw.

"There's science involved. You can learn how the weights in the car impact the speed," said Bradner.

"You feel like kinda more part of the race if you get to build your own car and see how it works and all that," said Isaiah Bradner, Matt Bradner's son.

The Bradner family got an extra lesson on brakes this week after a test run ruined one of their parts.

When asked if his brakes were going to pass inspection, Isaiah said, "Well, they didn't pass inspection but we're going to fix them up today we hope and then they're going to work."

"We had to overnight a part and we're getting it fixed," said Isaiah's dad.

It was only a minor setback for the Invincible Isaiah, who's looking to improve on his 5th place finish last year. But, he's hedging his bets and isn't making any promises.

"I might do good, I might do bad, I might do OK. It just all depends on what happens."

Each driver also had to recruit sponsors for their soap box car. The kits to make the cars cost around $600 and are provided by the All-American Soap Box Derby organization. There are two derby divisions, and races kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.