On your marks! ‘Posh soapboxes’ thrill at Soapbox Challenge in Thetford
PUBLISHED: 16:44 23 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:16 28 April 2017
They are sleek, shiny and virtually silent, and they have proven a big hit in Thetford.
The Norfolk town today hosted its first ever Soapbox Challenge, which saw 11 ‘gravity vehicles’ compete in time trials along a downhill course stretching from Market Place down along King Street.
Each was uniquely decorated, with a ‘Back to the Future’ vehicle and a ‘dragon’ vehicle proving among the most popular.
At least 400 spectators flocked to the Thetford Town Council-organised event to soak up the family atmosphere, enjoy an ice cream, listen to a DJ and browse the market stalls and team tents set up at Market Place.
Terry Jermy, town mayor, said he was delighted with the response to the challenge.
He said: “There’s been such a great turn-out. We’ve got great community spirit here and when we do put on events like this they are always really well-supported.
“It shows the community really want things like this.”
Also there was David Ackroyd, from Bury St Edmunds, who was displaying the VXR Nimbus soapbox, which won the ‘soapbox world land speed record’ in 2008.
Mr Ackroyd, team manager, said the vehicle had achieved a speed of 62mph.
He said he had been involved in soapbox racing for more than 15 years.
Mr Ackroyd said: “70pc of this whole thing is improving your own racer and looking at others. Only a small part of it is trying to race and win. Events like this are great fun, there’s a great atmosphere and you get that adrenaline rush.”
Mr Ackroyd said gravity racers were like ‘formula one without the engine’ and said they had also been described as ‘posh soap boxes’.
He said: “The great thing is, you can take it as far as you want. You could put a lot of money into a racer, and still get beaten by someone who has only spent £10 on theirs.”
The vehicles also thrilled young spectators, including Oliver Savage, seven, and Robbie Huson, nine.
The friends, both from Thetford, said they thought the Back to the Future racer was the best.
As well as the racing, teams raised money for a range of charities including Help for Heroes and Cancer Research UK.
Tina Cunnell, town clerk, said she hoped the Soapbox Challenge would become an annual event.