It was a quiet Thursday evening in Catonsville when Dr. Scope, Tygrys, Crewser, Crews Control, Sharkbone, The Jerm and RaceFace gathered for a cookout, feasting on hot dogs and grilled barbecue chicken.
In their workday world, they are known as Fran Honeywell and his wife, Jola Honeywell; Chris Crews and his wife, Becky Sass-Crews; Ben Powel; Jeremy Ashinghurst; and Nick Alexander.
But away from work, that is how they refer to themselves as members of the Maryland Independent Soapbox Federation and Incline Trials Society (M.I.S.F.I.T.S).
The Catonsville-based group will display its unique skills and different approach to a sport usually identified with younger drivers on July 4 for the first time. Their debut will come during a showcase heat in the Arbutus Soap Box Derby.
The derby will be held at the intersection of Elm and Oakland roads, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., before the start of the annual Arbutus Fourth of July Parade on Oregon Avenue and East Drive.
"They're an adult group, a local group, that does soap box derby," said TJ Sprankle, organizer of the annual Arbutus race. "We've never had adult racing before."
But these aren't your grandparents' era soap box races. The M.I.S.F.I.T.S. race their custom-built metal cars, which can cost up to $5,000 to build and maintain, down hills ranging from a half mile to just over two miles long. The vehicles can reach speeds up to 60 mph.
"We do extreme soap box racing," said group founder Fran Honeywell, also known as Dr. Scope. "We run all out cars at one time in one big group and we run very fast mountain hills when we can find them.
"It's a thrill. It's frightening," he said. "We don't have that engine. We have gravity; we have a steering wheel; and that's pretty much it."
Honeywell said he happened to stumble upon a website for the San Fernando Valley Illegal Soap Box Federation in 2008. The unique sport instantly caught Honeywell's interest and, being a former Formula Atlantic road racer, he, along with his wife, jumped in and began to build cars.
"It looked like a really fun, cool thing to do," the Catonsville resident said. "From there, it's just grown."
The first outside the Honeywell household to catch the fever was Jeremy Ashinghurst, aka The Jerm, an electrical engineer for DeWALT.
"When I graduated college and I moved to Baltimore, I had no hobbies," Ashinghurst said. "But then I found a link to the M.I.S.F.I.T.S."
His love of engineering fuels his passion for the sport.
"I think the thing I love most about it is building the cars," he said. "Making them better, making them faster."
Though he said the races are exhilarating, the high speeds and high risk factors can create a tense atmosphere.
"I think when I'm racing down the hill at 60 miles per hour, I'm not thinking about a lot, it's just reflex," Ashinghurst said. "I'm just trying to get myself down the hill in one piece.
"If we're not out of control, you're right on the edge," he said.
Honeywell stressed that safety is the most important aspect of any race the M.I.S.F.I.T.S. sponsor or participate in.