VALPARAISO | Steering brightly colored cars often emblazoned with sponsor names, children participating in the Northwest Indiana Soapbox Derby races Saturday sped down a Lincolnway hill.
The tradition dates back to 1940 in Valparaiso. American Legion Post 94 sponsored this year's race.
Supporters set up tents and folding chairs, cheering from the sidelines as children raced by.
"I raced 53 years ago, on this same street," Westville resident Ron Biggs said. "There's a lot of time and work that goes into these cars."
He and his wife, Theresa Biggs, cheered on three granddaughters at the derby, 13-year-old Zoe Biggs and 11-year-old Olivia Biggs, of Jasper, and 14-year-old Sara Rokosz, of Valparaiso.
In modern races, kits are used in assembling the cars, which can reach 30 mph, Ron Biggs said.
This year's field consisted of 38 cars in four divisions. Winners from each of the four divisions advance to race July 27 at the International Soapbox Derby in Akron, Ohio.
The finishes can be close.
"We had kids win by one one-hundredth of a second," Ron Biggs said of his time volunteering by the finish line.
Racing sisters Robin and Amanda Davies, of Lafayette, were cheered on by extended family along the route, said their aunt Heather Barnes, of Hobart.
Amanda wants to be a NASCAR driver, Barnes said.