AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – “It really looked like fun.” 

That’s what Julie Callahan, who was in the fifth grade, thought back in 1950 about the All-American Soap Box Derby .

She watched her older brother and dad build a soap box derby racer at their home and she wanted to do it too. In the 1950s, however, little girls were not allowed to build and race their own cars.

Still, never underestimate a ticked off and very smart little girl. She immediately fired off a well thought out but angry letter to the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal.

“It was one of those things that it was apparent that this was not going to be available to me and I thought, ‘this just isn’t fair. Why not why can’t I do that?”‘ Julie said.

Now, at 84 years old, Julie is getting her chance to go down the hill at Derby Downs with her husband by her side and another woman, Nancy Ferruccio.

When she was 15 years old in 1971, Nancy was actually the very first young female to go down the big hill after building

“My dad was a builder. I knew how to work a saw and stuff like that and the only question that they asked me, because they were checking the car out, was, ‘how did you build this with your long fingernails?'” Nancy said.

Nancy says she was reluctant to do it at first, but it was an opportunity for a young girl to show that she could build a car and race a car just like the boys could.

“When I was at the top of the hill, everybody in the stands stood up and clapped with being the first female to go down, so it was awesome.” Nancy said.

Nancy finished second in her heat that day, but since 1971, there have been several female champions and hundreds of young women who have now raced.

Young women like Julie got the ball rolling and Nancy took that ball down the hill.

At the time, neither woman thought they were doing anything special. just doing what they thought was right.

“It’s kind of like you’ve been drawing a circle all these years and you’re just about ready to bring the circle back to the beginning again. I’m glad to see it available to me and I’m glad to see it available to all these girls here,”  Julie said.

Julie and her husband Ken also celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary by going down the big hill together. She beat her husband, but Nancy actually won the race.

Learn more information about the All-American Soap Box Derby here.