Article by Guy Bell: A soapbox derby inspired by the obstacle-riddled courses of the Red Bull races will bring traffic to a standstill in Billericay.
The Rotary Club of Billericay have revealed big plans to organise the inaugural race to rival the Christmas Market and SummerFest as the town's biggest event.
More than 40 people have already signed up to line up on the grid at the race, due to be held next May.
It was a club member's visit to New Zealand that helped kick start the plans and vice president Mike Sinclair is still on the lookout for competitors and sponsors.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mike"]Red Bull have had a few of these events dotted around and they have been televised. It is a concept we have looked at and we are going to have one here. James Ilesley had seen a soapbox derby organised by a Rotary club in New Zealand and he brought back the idea. We all thought it would be good to have a go at something new.[/quote]
The group of race organisers eyed up Sun Corner as the starting point with carts heading down the street towards Western Road.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mike"]This is a charity event and we have had to get some things arranged and we needed to get an agreement to source an ideal route. We had to get Essex Highways authority to agree to a road closure on that particular stretch on the Bank Holiday so there aren't buses or people needing the road to get to work. Basildon Council has also agreed because it is a charitable event we could have the use of the field at Sun Corner. We will use that among other things to provide the pits for the soapboxes and they can all assemble there.[/quote]
The race, which will take place on Monday, May 2, still has around 25 spaces to fill and Mike is hopeful of attracting the town's own Wacky Racers. Racers from as far away as Yorkshire have already pledged their support.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mike"]So far we have had over 40 firm entries and there will be a few more in the pipeline. Each race will be timed individually and there will be a race-off between the four fastest soapboxes. The Wacky entries won't be determined by speed but by how interesting the design is and the course will include some obstacles. We have been doing a bit of research as to what has been done in other races and we are hopefully going to be able to replicate those.[/quote]
Toomey Motor Village in Basildon has already pledged its sponsorship ahead of next year's soapbox derby and the Rotary Club have crossed their fingers for the future of the race.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mike"]If it flies then this will become an annual thing. This event will progress as the time gets nearer and I am sure it is a learning curve for us all. It is exciting and, at the end of the day, it is helping raise funds for charity and it is a community event. It ticks all the right boxes.[/quote]
Read original article by Guy Bell, Brentwood Gazette