Article by Guy Bell: Thousands of people packed the streets to witness the first ever Soapbox Derby as daredevil drivers lined up on the grid to race their homemade karts.
The Bank Holiday Monday madness down "Thunder Road" was the culmination of months of blood, sweat and gears from Billericay's racers and rotary club.
More than 60 karts descended on the designated route from Sun Corner negotiating ramps and hay bails down London Road.
The original Top Gear Stig, Perry McCarthy, dropped the first flag of the morning and plans are already under way to make the Soapbox Derby an annual event.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Billericay Rotary Club president Ed Harrison"]We have had a terrific amount of help from other clubs and it is like the Round Table with the fireworks where everybody helps out. We had Lord Petre here judging the aacky racers and everybody was coming through the gates like it was going out of fashion. We have got a lot of volunteers and it is such an amazing event to do. The timing is also perfect because it is between the Christmas Market and Summerfest. We had well over 1,000 people through the gate in the first hour and a half.[/quote]
Caped Quilters Junior School head teacher Michael Wade took to the monocoque of Q-Express and completed the course in just 37 seconds.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Michael Wade"]I was wearing a heart monitor and we had a GoPro camera on the roof and that footage will go out on our school's TV channel on our website. All four wheels came off the ground when I went over the ramp and the kart was a lot faster than I thought it would be. I am just relieved to get down in one piece. The kids have been in the car and had their photos taken with it. We had six children paint the kart and it was taken off site to be built by a parent and his son. It has been a real Billericay effort.[/quote]
A 250-strong crowd of Quilters children supported Mr Wade with tickets bought from the Rotary Club in the days leading up to the derby.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Peter Greene, Billericay Rotary Club member"]We are getting the crowds in and we have sold 2,000 tickets alone in advance. It is fantastically satisfying to see everybody here watching derby. The support has been continuous since October and all the clubs including the Mayflower Rotary Club, Billericay Round Table and Brentwood's Lions are here to help out. If you walk up and down the queue everybody is up for it and everybody was cheering as all the racers get to the top We have got jumps on the course but if they don't want to do those they can bypass them. I was up at 5am today but I wasn't the earliest up. We try and raise money for charity so if this helps us raise our profile and the profiles of the other clubs that can only be a good thing.[/quote]
Stock duo David Liney and Paul Voller took to the cockpit of their Minion-themed machine, despite a distinct lack of practice.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by David"]We saw a poster in the high street for the race and thought it would be a great idea to do it for the kids and dress as Minions. Once the kart has been put together then you get a bit more enthused by it. It is just the fun and taking part which is why we are doing it. Some of the younger people here have been asking for photos.[/quote]
Article by Guy Bell, Brentwood Gazette