Underage drivers rule this Ballston Spa pavement

It's just one squeal of the wheels from the streets of Ballston Spa to the hot tracks of Watkins Glen International Raceway.

Underage drivers took to the streets Sunday morning in the annual Rolling Roadsters Race that pitted brothers, cousins and neighbors against one another for the coveted car-shaped trophies. The only signs of road rage were the squabbles between parents as they reminded one another of the primary rule: no running after your kids in their go-carts to give them a push down the hill.

With gravity as their only engine, kids edged their vehicles up to the 30-mile per hour speed limit during the one-fifth of a mile race from the wooden starting gate to the mound of sand at the foot of Bath Street. With its good-sized slope, the street was the perfect course for the downhill races, most of which clocked in at about a 20-second run.

Really, the only way to go faster is to lean forward, said veteran driver Sean Simmons, 13. "But you can't hunch all the way down to the steering wheel, because that slows you right down."

Blocked off to traditional vehicle traffic at 8 a.m. Sunday, racing fans carrying coffee cups, cameras and stopwatches lined the sidewalks by the Village municipal office. The course was lined with 125 bales of hay, and curbs and telephone poles were padded with foam and duct tape. At the finish line, a sand pit and a row of fearless fathers waited to halt any racers trying to make it all the way to the Kayaderosseras Creek.

Launched eight years ago by the village board, the race is growing in popularity and achieving its goal of bringing back memories of outside summer events that don't include skateboards or high-tech equipment. The rules for the go-cart style cars are simple but mandatory; there must be foot-controlled brakes, all drivers need helmets, and both the cockpit and steering wheel must be properly padded.

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