LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Think of it as being the national championship of soapbox derby racing.
Kids from all across the US will meet later this month in Akron, Ohio, as they race their engineless cars in the All-American Soapbox Derby. Drivers include two boys from Lee's Summit, one of whom won't be stopped by his special needs
Joey Meara already owns many soapbox trophies, and more could come.
Meara knows how to win races. He's already gathered a houseful of recognition for his downhill speed. 12-year old Joey recently wrapped up elementary school, and he's already won a points championship in the super-stock class. His car is already en route to Northern Ohio, where he'll feel the wind as he goes for a win.
"It's the rush of going down the hill, and the people who are there," Joey Meara said. "It's just like a family there. The people who are there. It's just like a family there."
Joey's father, Paul Meara, is the president of the Kansas City Soap Box Derby, and its homemade cars without engines. Paul says these races mean a lot to the kids who drive.
"There's people who have put 15-20 years into soap box," Paul Meara said. "It used to be on 'Wide World of Sports.' Kids Joey's age would watch it and think it's pretty neat."
11-year old Morgan Bryan is blazing a trail of sorts. He was born with Down's Syndrome, and he'll be Kansas City's first racer in the National Super Kid Classic, which is meant for children with special needs. That event will be held during the same week as the All-American Soapbox Derby.
"He loves the adrenaline part of it like all the kids," Jenni Bryan, Morgan's mother, said. "He doesn't like to wait. Nobody likes to wait, but he might have a meltdown and the other kids wouldn't."
Whether or not the boys should take home more gold at the national event is almost irrelevant. Paul Meara says the boys are bringing much-needed publicity to the sport of soapbox racing, and they're both champions in their own right.
"They're all winners when they go up there," Paul Meara said. "It's not about who comes home in first place. They're all champions when they get up there."
The fun they're having beats any trophy they might win.
The All-American Soap Box Derby races into Akron, Ohio on July 21. Paul Meara said as many as nine racers from the metro will travel there for the event.