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Soap Box Derby: An All American Classic 1993: (PBS, 3-4:30 p.m., E.T. - not carried on all stations): They can go 35 miles per hour - with no engine. They are aerodynamically designed - at home. And the race they compete in - the "Gravity Grand Prix" - is fabled in the annals of Americana.

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They are the Soap Box Derby cars, lovingly crafted by young people ages 9 to 16. The event is being covered here like the big time: live, and with interviews, background clips, and a name host - 1983 Indy 500 champion Tom Sneva. Some 200 regional champions from 30 states will zip down 954-foot Derby Downs Hill in Akron, Ohio, in final heats to determine the 1993 World Champions. The show also offers a "Track Talk" feature, with competitors describing their feelings - and their special techniques.

Montreal International Comedy Festival '93 (Showtime, 10-11:30 p.m.): They have film and jazz festivals, don't they? Why not one for comedy? Montreal thinks it's a great idea and has been doing something about it since 1983, when it launched a little two-night event with 15 performers. Long since dubbed "The Cannes of Comedy," it is now one of the best-known happenings of its kind in the world, and certainly the largest. In the 1993 version, covered by this special, about 250 performers are expected to b e seen and heard by an estimated 600,000 spectators at what has turned into a marathon, multifaceted occasion lasting two weeks.

Top comedians like Milton Berle, Jay Leno, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and Lily Tomlin have performed at these festivals, yet one of its goals is also to highlight up-and-coming comics from various countries. Viewers are given a sampling of the talent (much of it well beyond the up-and-coming stage): Louie Anderson, Michael Richard, Pam Stone, Carrot Top, and others. The host is John Candy. * SUNDAY

Booknotes (C-Span, 5-6 p.m.): The guest is Tom Rosenstiel, author of "Strange Bedfellows: How Television Changed American Politics."

Please check local listings for these programs.

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