A year ago, when Menifee city officials went to him seeking ideas about a fun community event that would attract participants and visitors, Joe Schnake wasn't sure what to expect.
As it turned out, his idea -- a soap box derby -- had people lining Menifee Road, cheering on 20 drivers who coasted down the hill from Craig Avenue to the finish line at Legacy Way, just south of Holland Road.
Schnake, recreation supervisor for Valley-Wide Recreation, had hit upon success. Ever watched those "Little Rascals" films where the kids race downhill in homemade race cars? That's what you'll see once again this Saturday, Sept. 7, in the second annual Menifee Soap Box Derby, sponsored by the City of Menifee.
"Our entry list filled up 2 1/2 months ago," said Schnake, who runs the event. "After last year, this thing just exploded. We had 38 racers registered for this race by April. The first one signed up in February."
This year's field includes entries from not only Menifee, but Lake Elsinore, Hemet and Beaumont. A family from Ohio has already expressed interest in entering next year's race after a grandfather witnessed the 2012 fun and games.
"I foresee it getting bigger from this point on," Schnake said. "What we do that's different from a lot of soap box derbies is we allow you to build your own car from the ground up."
Drivers range in age from 6-60, and you'll see a wide variety of car designs. Check-in for drivers is at 7 a.m., with opening ceremonies -- including a color guard and singing of the national anthem -- at 7:30. There will be vendor booths with refreshments and a small downhill side course for kids to practice on.
Menifee Road will be closed to traffic from Craig Avenue to Holland Road beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday.