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Matthew Hopfner, 10, of Concord, speeds down Main Street in Clayton, in a soapbox derby car during the 10th annual Great Labor Day Derby & Car Show on Main Street in downtown Clayton, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. The race was sponsored by The Clayton Community Church. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

CLAYTON -- Chandler Wakefield recalls the rush of his first race.

The Clayton resident, then 7, got into his four-wheeled soapbox derby car and sped down Main Street.

"I remember sitting my little car at the top of the ramp and the anticipation was growing," he says, "and I ended up winning ... I had to wait a whole year to do try it again."

On Saturday, Aug. 30, the Clayton Community Church is hosting its 11th annual Labor Day Derby and Car Show, a tradition that now attracts an average of 250 young racers from ages 7-14, and a car show in the downtown with an estimated 300 vehicles from early 20th century to brand new makes and models.

It's a multigenerational time for the town, with grandfathers sharing tales of their first automobile, and then cheering on their grandchildren as he or she races, sometimes running into the buffering hay bales that serve to cushion their low-speed impacts.

Volunteer maintenance crews will be on the ready to inspect the cars to make sure they are ready for the next go around.

Derby coordinator and Concord resident Sean Kuiper describes the two dozen custom-painted fiberglass cars that run on inertia built up from the downhill ramp, and the innocent competition that is largely "luck of the draw."


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"It's a really family-oriented event, and the fact that it's free is extremely unique these days," says Steve Stafford, of Concord, who is in charge of the car show. He noted the diverse selection with Best of Show going to such vehicles as a muscle car, "a pre-war Packard or a low-rider style."

Clayton Community Church Pastor Shawn Robinson describes the community event as a "real staple" that provides a venue for youth to learn sportsmanship in a fun setting.

"I've seen joy for the kids who are participating," he says. "Our whole desire for doing this is to bless our community ... I think we got it right."

IF YOU GO
WHAT: Clayton Derby & Car Show
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 30
WHERE: Corner of Main Street and Marsh Creek Road near Grove Park in Clayton
COST: Free (derby race is for children ages 7-14)
INFORMATION: Call 925-673-9060, or visit www.claytoncc.com to preregister