In pictures: Weird and wacky soapbox cars head for the hills and raise thousands of dollars

Richards Castle Soap Box Derby family day out with cart racing

Narrow single-lane roads were blocked in one-way approaches to Hanway Common near Richards Castle on Sunday after high winds blew a crucial sign.

The event involves people running their homemade soap boxes down the hill on a set route. It is not a race and involves the soapboxes racing against the clock on a number of tracks down the hill.

There was a range of weird and wonderful cars

Organizers estimate the day would have raised well over £10,000 for three charities. This year’s recipients are Hope Centre, Bromyard, Ludlow Men’s Shed and the Ludlow Ukrainian Support Group.

Humphrey Salwey, chairman of the Soap Box Derby, was delighted with the “absolutely fantastic” turnout which he estimated at 1,500 visitors and competitors at the hillside venue.

“It was a little overwhelming, we struggled as volunteers at one point, but we made it.”

There was a range of weird and wonderful cars

Once people were encouraged to pay in cash instead of waiting for card payments to clear, traffic once started flowing and even during the afternoon there was a steady stream of cars on the grassy site.

Mr Salwey said some of the queues were caused by card reader delays. “Everyone had a great time and the weather held us up. We are absolutely thrilled to be able to raise the money.”

A competitor is assisted off the road

This year, there were a record number of 38 soapboxes with inventors who were impressive in their creativity. Among the inventions causing oohs, ahhs and laughter from the roped-in crowd were a spaceship, a replica of the Only Fools and Horses Trotters Independent Traders van with smoke and a WWII-style Tiger Tank.

Tank driver Neave Wright-Cook

Mr Salwey praised his team of 13 volunteers who were involved in the nine months of planning leading up to what members of the public see at the derby.

Organizers were joined by youngsters from Ludlow Air Cadets who were helping out in the car park as part of one of the events they are invited to each year.

An Only Fools and Horses themed car

Warrant Officer Maureen Daw, who was in charge of her team of 10 that day, said: “It was a fantastic turnout, I’ve never seen him so busy and I’ve been coming for seven or eight years. “

Ms Daw said there was always room for more young boys and girls at Air Training Corps Ludlow Squadron and encouraged anyone interested to get in touch.

The setting was fantastic

Competitors included Amy and Lee Randall-Smith and other family members, including Amy’s 64-year-old father Bruce Burrow.

They had traveled an hour and a half from Gloucestershire to be there with their creations. This time around the competition was timing the cars, not the drivers, so they took turns trying to complete the long course as fast as possible.

Martin Hughes

As the Shropshire Star arrived in their stand, Amy, 38, arrived in her Runaway Baby creation. It looks like a baby in a pram, with races up front, and it crashed and sped the course in 56 seconds, with Amy pulling off a nifty turn as she finished her run.

Her husband Lee had bragging rights after his 50-second run. He rode in his sturdy, vintage-style “this ain’t motocross” soapbox. It was named so because Lee is a motocross fan.

Mike Slater and Dave Bithell with their creation

Among the myriad of people were also friends Phil Wheeler and John Cantor, from Machynlleth. John, a trumpeter, sat on a bicycle, which was attached to Phil at the piano and he put on quite a show as he also raced down the hill, attached to a safety rope.

For Phil and John, this was the first outing of their creation that they hope to take to events to help raise charitable funds.

Phil said: “The turnout is great. There’s a nice atmosphere and it’s really enjoyable.”


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