DANBURY -- The two-lane blacktop on Casper Street runs downhill fast, then levels out at the bottom.
It's a city street, lined with houses. But when you're a 10-year-old running a Soap Box Derby car down that steep hill at 25 mph, it's a little taste of Daytona and Le Mans.
"It was exciting," said Tiffany Remlin, 11, of New Milford, making her debut race at the 42nd annual Soap Box Derby in Danbury on Sunday.
"You go fast,'' said Hailey Rigney, 9, of Danbury.
"When you're little, this is your first car," said Sarah Gallo-Becker, who won the race in 1983. "I was 9 years old the first time I raced. And it was just so cool."
Casper Street has been the site of the Soap Box Derby in Danbury since 1977. Prior to that, cars raced down White Turkey Hill.
The event is run by the Greater Danbury Soap Box Derby Association. Children as young as age 7 can enter. So can teenagers.
The winners go on to compete in the world championship Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.
"They told me I was going to Akron," said David Treadwell, 74, who won the race in 1952. "I didn't know where Akron was."
In those days, Treadwell said, the cars were wooden and boxy. His grandfather, a carpenter, was the master designer. Ferdinand Porsche, the grandfather was not.
"The third year we entered, we used Masonite to cover the car," Treadwell said. "My father said `Let's make it a little more aerodynamic.' My grandfather didn't want to think about that. He said `Build it strong and it will be safe.'"
Today's Soap Box Derby cars are made out of plastic. They come in kits that cost about $400 to $600.
To make sure there's no great technical advantage, each race has two heats. Between heats, the cars switch wheels, then race in different lanes.
What matters is the skill of the kids driving. Because the road slopes away toward the curbing on either side, the drivers learn to use that slope to pick up a little extra speed.
They have to use their fingers to count how many children and grandchildren have been in the Soap Box Derby before them.
"How many times have we stood here?" Novaco said.
The race is also one sport without any gender bias. The girls race the boys, the boys race the girls. What matters is your time.
"I love racing," said Veronica Becker, the daughter of Sarah Gallo-Becker. "Girls get treated like babies in other sports and I don't like that."
Dan Evon, 78, of West Redding, was at the race wearing his Danbury Racearena T-shirt. Asked if the Soap Box Derby was the last remnant of racing in the city, Evon said "yes. Unfortunately."
So, he said, he shows up on Casper Street to cheer on the cars and their drivers.
"Racing is racing," he said.