Gravity Games

Future racing stars gun it at the Greater Houston Soapbox Derby

SAT 6/4
Here's a nature-versus-nurture problem. Are people born wanting mullets and NASCAR careers, or is that desire created by events like the Greater Houston Soapbox Derby? This weekend's races, for kids ages eight to 17, include three divisions: Stock (total weight of car and driver is 200 pounds), SuperStock (230 pounds) and SuperKids, which features specially designed cars with two seats that fit a handicapped youth and co-driver. Rather than the rickety, old-timey wooden soapboxes of yesterday, these modern cars are made of plastic and wood laminate -- but they're still steered by handheld cables. There's plenty of action for mini-speed freaks and onlookers alike. Gravity takes over as kids race fast and furious down a 990-foot track with a 27-foot drop, hitting more than 20 miles an hour at the finish. Each division winner gets a shot at the Soapbox Derby nationals, which take place in July in Akron, Ohio -- home of the derby since its creation in 1933. "The cars are all basically the same, so it's where you place the weight and the ability of the kid driving," says Rick Higginbotham, president of the Greater Houston Soapbox Derby. Here's rootin' for that 70-pound future Rusty Wallace. Races start at 9 a.m.; finals start at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Weslayan at Westpark. For information, call 713-871-1304 or visit www.houstonsoapboxderby.org. Free. -- Greg Barr

Feud and Food

SAT 6/4
If you've ever witnessed the insane, flag-waving mobs in the stands, you know there's much more to pro soccer than just a bunch of guys kicking a ball around. That'll be especially evident this weekend, when Montrose (and Greek) spot Byzantio Cafe and Bar shows the World Cup match between Greece and Turkey on the big screen. This is one of the last soccer qualifying matches of the year, and Team Greece and Team Turkey are locked in a tie for a World Cup appearance (for soccer fans, that's a Super Bowl berth multiplied by a thousand). Oh, and Greeks and Turks can be bitter rivals (thanks to some hostile feuding in World War I). "I want everyone to be comfortable and have fun -- I don't want a riot," says Byzantio's Dora Manolopoulos. Let's see, soccer, crazed Mediterraneans and alcohol? Lotsa luck, Dora. 1 p.m. Saturday, June 4. 403 West Gray. For information, call 713-520-6896. $20. -- Steven Devadanam

 
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