Thousands flock to Hunstanton’s revived Soap Box Derby
PUBLISHED: 16:54 17 September 2017 | UPDATED: 20:51 17 September 2017
Crowds flocked to Hunstanton for the revival of the town’s once legendary kart races.
Soapbox derbies were popular in the 1960s, down the resort’s gently sloping squares and terraces.
Almost 60 years later, 40 carts lined up at the top of Boston Square, where they faced a tight left-handed bend into Cliff Parade, where a ramp and a chicane before the finishing line.
Thousands lined the course to cheer on the assortment of home-made racers cobbled together from everything from old bikes, canoes and oil drums, to more bespoke creations.
Winner of the time trial were the Beach Boys, whose best of two attempts saw them complete the course in 42 seconds. Second were junior entrants the Midnight Racers, whose fastest descent was 48 seconds.
Mick Drowback from Throckenholt, near Wisbech, completed the course in the Dick Dastardly-esque Wacky Racer, which belched clouds of smoke as it lurched through the chicane.
While not one of the fastest, it was named best-decorated entrant. Co-builder Gary Brown, who helped assemble the kart at Wisbech St Mary-based GB Autos with Wayne Cox and James Bostock, said it took around five weeks to build.
“It’s two oil drums, an old axle, a couple of old bikes and Land Rover roof racks,” he said, adding the team planned on returning next year.
Hunstanton-based property developer Robert Knight’s Knight Rider took a couple of months to complete with friends.
Semi-retired engineer Pete Drew, also from Hunstanton, was at the wheel for the cart’s first of two descents. He said: “It was such great fun.”
Event compere and radio KLFM967 presenter Simon Rowe said: “People have spent a lot of time, a lot of graft’s gone into these machines.”
The derby was organised by West Norfolk council to celebrate the regeneration of Hunstanton’s Heritage Gardens, by re-creating the town’s 1960s soap box derbies. As well as the racing, there was live music and entertainment.
Borough Mayor Carol Bower said: “Nature’s been on our side and given us a glorious day. We had far bigger crowds than we were hoping for.” Hunstanton Mayor Adrian Winnington said: “It’s fantastic, it’s a great event which seems to have been enjoyed by spectators and competitors. It’s really good to revive it.”