It's Derby Time!

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Thirty young people from ages eight through 16 have been working up a sweat as they gear up for the Annual Queen City Soap Box Derby. It will be Saturday in downtown Meridian.

"We are doing a 100 percent inspection on the cars to make sure everything is safe for them going down the hill," said Danny Hill, director for the race.

The local program has come a long way as it started off with only four cars and now has nearly 30 cars sponsored by various individuals and companies.

The idea of this unique race grew out of a photographic assignment of a Dayton, Ohio newsman who covered a race in his hometown and was so impressed he developed a similar program on a national scale.

But this type of Racing did not actually come to Meridian until the 1940s.

"When I was a little boy, I could not understand why it was not going on," said Hill.

Kids agree that the sport is not only fun but challenging and teaches them the basic skills of workmanship and competition.

"It's fun and I like to do it and race," said Taylor Carroll, one of the racers.

"I just want to win. I have never done it before. I just hope I don't wreck," said another racer, Brach Barham.

Parents say they feel pretty much the same as the youngsters do about the sport, which offers two divisions, depending on the child's age and weight.

"I think it is a great thing," said parent Gayla Carpenter. "And for her and her daddy to get together and race the car together, it's a bonding time."

The Queen City Soap Box Derby will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on the hill of 23rd Avenue at 11th Street. The winner will go on to the nationals, to be held in Akron, Ohio on July 31.