They have been brought to life in backyards, shops and garages. They have been hammered, cut, sanded and coated with every color on the racing circuit.
They have been road-tested in driveways and parking lots -- hopefully holding the safety checks for brakes to a higher standard. After all, you have to be able to stop these homemade chariots once you hand over the keys to gravity.
On Saturday, about three dozen soapbox cars will fly down the hill on Magnolia from the top of College Street. Hundreds of people will line the street and spend the day beside the loveliest little park in the city. By the afternoon, that number could stretch into the thousands.
They will be there for the Wheel Magnolias.
There is no soap in the Magnolia Soap Box Derby, unless you count good, clean fun. That's why folks like Robert Fisher can't wait to let the good times roll.
His involvement with the derby began four years ago, when he was recruited as a volunteer and jumped on the bandwagon. He has become one of the race's biggest cheerleaders.
Last year, he bought a century-old home a few car lengths from Washington Park and across the street from Macon's original water works, now a private residence.
His new old house has its own special history. A Capricorn Records executive owned it in the early 1970s, and The Allman Brothers Band once jammed in the shade of a magnolia tree on the giant deck in the back, where there is enough wood to build a fleet of derby cars.
There is a personal sentiment, too. Fisher proposed to his fiancée, Mariana Furlin, on the front-porch swing.
Magnolia is one of those eclectic downtown residential streets that's "right in the thick of everything that goes on in Macon," said Fisher. It is situated in a valley below Georgia and Washington avenues, and flanked at the upper end by College Street. (The roofs of many of the houses on Magnolia were scorched in the 1963 fire at Wesleyan Conservatory, now the site of the main post office.)
Cherry Street can toot its own horn with big parades. And Mulberry, which hosts and boasts its annual arts and crafts festival this weekend, is arguably the city's signature street.
But Magnolia, by golly, has a derby that draws participants and spectators from every cross-section of the community.
"I'm a little biased," Fisher said, "but this is one of the best events in Macon every year."
It began as an upstart in 2009, and its uniqueness can hardly be challenged. No, this is not your father's Rollsmobile. Although it is sanctioned by the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio, it does not play by the same rules nor is it a qualifier to the All-American Soap Box Derby in July.
"Soap Box gave us a unique rider because we are a nonprofit," said Fisher. "It took some 'selling,' but they are now very happy with the relationship."
The local derby cars are built to a loose set of specifications. "Very simple," Fisher said. "They must have functioning brakes and steering. The drivers must be 18, sober and wearing a DOT-certified helmet."
The age range cuts a wide swath, too, from "young to the young at heart." There is a special "Big Wheels" race for the little ones, ages 4-8. And there have been several silver-haired contestants in their 70s taking on the thrill of the hill in past races. (By contrast, the national soap box derby has three divisions for ages 7-20.)
The Magnolia has a big tent. Businesses, schools, churches, restaurants, clubs and nonprofits all want a piece of the action. The "Gravity" races include entries from a dozen high schools in Bibb, Crawford, Jones and Monroe counties. Two years ago, the derby was awarded a Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant. It funded Bibb public high schools with soap box car kits as part of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum. Other divisions include "Professional" and "Shade Tree," which I assume means magnolias, oaks, pines and Yoshinos all qualify.
When Fisher began volunteering, he was appointed "head of security." His only familiarity with soapbox car racing was that he once lived in Ohio. Every July, when the All-American derby is held in Akron, it "takes over the state," he said, laughing.
He now is in charge of the food trucks, which is an awesome responsibility. Spectators need fuel, too.
It should be noted that Macon's first soap box derby was 80 years ago this summer and was held only two blocks away on Forsyth Street. Herman Brown, an 11-year-old from Macon, would later become the answer to a trivia question. After going to the "picture show" one afternoon at the Ritz Theatre on Cherry Street, he walked over to the firehouse to see his father, who was a fireman.
The fire chief asked him if he wanted to be in the Soap Box Derby, and Brown said sure, even though he had no idea what the guy was talking about. The fire department passed the hat and raised $10, the limit that could be spent on materials at the time. They gathered 2x4 scraps and located an old Model T steering wheel from the junkyard. The car was painted red and black, the fire station's official colors.
Brown's top speed was 36 mph down the hill at Forsyth Street. It was fast enough to earn him an all-expenses paid trip to the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, which had made its debut two years earlier in 1934.
Until the Magnificent Magnolia arrived at the starting line seven years ago, Macon's love affair with the derby had been as checkered as a flag. It was discontinued during World War II, then returned for two years in 1946 and '47 on Emery Highway. The crowds numbered 20,000, and there were more than 100 participants. But a number of crashes, injuries and other safety concerns led to the discontinuation of the event.
It was 40 years before it came back again in 1987 on Eisenhower Parkway. I remember that race because I covered it for The Telegraph. It later moved to Raley Road before losing traction again.
On Saturday, Magnolia will be lined high and deep with enough hay bales to fill the nearby Hay House. The bales keep the cars from veering off course - and stopping any runaway vehicles at the finish line.
Stay the course. Sounds like a plan. Way to go, Magnolia.
Ed Grisamore teaches journalism and creative writing at Stratford Academy in Macon. His column appears every Sunday in The Telegraph. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.