Get on your Soapbox — Derby, that is — this Saturday on 17th Street

Get on your Soapbox — Derby, that is — this Saturday on 17th Street
File photo by Ted Levin

Speed-demons are racing to construct the fastest, flashiest cars possible for Windsor Terrace’s third-annual soapbox derby — but this time around, the kids aren’t the only ones putting the pedal to the metal.

The organizers behind the Aug. 13 race, which runs down 17th Street from Seventh to Sixth avenues, are pushing for a stronger showing from adult racers this time around with the hopes of giving parents a glimpse of their own youth.

“In the end, what we want is for adults to have some fun, too — that they go back to their childhoods,” said Monika Wuhrer of Open Source Gallery, which hosts the event.

A higher profile derby for adults might be a welcome change for a borough that has seen its fair share of full-grown racers hanging up their helmets, and it may even indicate that the event is maturing alongside its participants. Last year, the judging criteria came down entirely to speed; this time around, not only is the style of each car going to be a factor, but also its structural integrity — a tall order, since all entrants are required to build their cars out of found materials such as cardboard, discarded lumber, or (as in one case last year) a bathtub.

“Even with the kids, we encourage the judges to look at how the car is built, to look into the engineering of the car and its design,” Wuhrer said.

Still, the kids’ race remains the marquee event, and Wuhrer expects at least 40 entries for the three-week-long building camp, run out of Open Source’s space and its two garages, leading up to the big day.

Eleven-year-old Jolene Lower, who turned heads last year with a translucent-bathtub-turned-pirate-ship, is definitely taking the style component of the competition seriously this year.

“The idea we like most is the car from ‘Ghostbusters,’ ” said Lower.

Soapbox Derby outside Open Source Gallery [17th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues in South Slope, (646) 279-3969], Aug. 13, with the kids race at 11:30 am, adults at 1 pm. For info, visit www.open-source-gallery.org.