CORTLAND -- Christian Coso and his uncle Jim Hammond of Austintown already have their sights set on next year's Soap Box Derby.
Only in his second year of racing, the 10-year-old Christian, who races under his ancestral name of Carlos, admits he's also an avid soccer player. But he is still drawn to the speed on the 1,000-foot track where the gravity racers in three different divisions can reach speeds of up to 35 mph.
Christian was among 37 racers, including 17 in his own Stock Division, competing Saturday in the Greater Youngs-town Area Soap Box Derby along a stretch of West Main Street between state Route 46 and Mosquito Creek Reservoir.
Katie Placer, 11, of Mineral Ridge, and her father Mike get situated Saturday at the Greater Youngstown Area Soap Box Derby in Cortland. The rookie took first place in the Stock Division to advance to the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron in July.
''We were here the other night and drove down the road in my truck. He was on my knee behind the wheel imagining the race,'' said Hammond. ''You have to head to the right about where that second driveway is and stay close to the tubes to pick up speed. The way the road is crowned gives you that speed.''
He was giving his nephew all the tips knew and could solicit from more experienced parents and some adults who have been in the race game since they were kids.
Some 12 rookies were in the field and were allowed a few practice runs before the double-elimination competition.
One of those rookies - Katie Placer, 11, of Mineral Ridge, took first place in the stock division using a rental car and on a day that marked her first time racing.
''It's exciting. I took my practice rounds and it felt good. A couple of kids got upset since it was only my first time racing,'' Katie said.
She also credited Abbie Postlethwait, the second place finisher and her ''best friend'' with helping her and giving her some needed confidence.
Winners in stock, super stock and masters divisions all advance to the All-American Soap Box Derby held in Akron in July along with those in rally competition who race throughout the year to accumulate enough points to qualify.
''We still have kids interested in racing,'' said Jeff Davis, of Austintown and a former racer himself.
''It's tough nowadays with video games and a million different sports. But this is good, fair competition,'' he said, explaining how wheels are swapped between heats to offer more parity among the racers.
This is the third year the race has been staged in Cortland.