More than 100 teams have already shown an interest in Ashbourne’s forthcoming soap box race, which is due to be launched this week.
Taking place in September, the finishing touches are still being made to a blueprint for the event, thought to be the first of its kind in the town centre, and set to draw in potentially thousands of spectators.
Once everything is finally approved, organisers are expecting up to 60 gravity-powered, home-made karts will be hurtling down Market Place and St John Street on Sunday, September 8.
The race, which will coincide with the final day of Ashbourne Beer and Cider Festival at the town hall, has been organised by a group of 16 local people who have been meeting on a monthly basis since last year to ensure everything runs smoothly.
The committee has been flooded with enquiries and chairman Sean Clayton says more than 100 people have asked for application forms so far, ahead of the launch date on Good Friday.
Sean says he wants the first ever soap box race to be a fun, safe, family-focused spectacle the whole town can enjoy.
He explained: “As a group we wanted to be able to include all the family in the day’s events, so there will be two races on the day; an adult race for over 18s and a family event which will encourage all the members of a family, from the very youngest to the very oldest, to get involved in the building of their soap box and the fancy dress on the day.
“However, due to insurance, we will only be allowing children over 12 to participate in the race itself.
“The winners will be declared on a points basis. There are points for the fancy dress, points for the build and originality of the race vehicle, points for how far the vehicle gets down the course and points for the finish time.
“This means that the fastest down the course may not be the ultimate winner due to how we are judging the whole event.
“We are actively encouraging teams to be sponsored for their soap box build, so that we can collectively raise even more for charity.”
The soap boxes, or go-karts, will start their descent in Union Street before negotiating the bend onto Market Place, rumbling down the steep hill, before turning right – the “wrong way” – down St John Street.
Space will be made for crowds to watch the action all the way along the course, including at the finishing line at the Green Man gallows sign.
During the Union Street stretch, racers will have to negotiate a chicane and, on the Market Place stretch, racers will encounter a ramp.
It is expected the adult karts will reach up to around 30mph, while the juniors will start slightly further along and will be given a choice of whether they want to take on the ramp or not.
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The organisers are currently waiting for a final nod on what would be a six and-a-half hour set of road closures, including the market place itself for teams to prepare on.
The committee is also trying to organise a big screen with a live feed of the race to help people watch every inch of the track and volunteers are being sought to act as stewards on the day.
Already the event has found support from a series of local businesses, and attracted funding from Derbyshire Dales District Council.
However sponsorship for the event, a brochure and the rows of crash barriers are still being sought.
To find out more about supporting or entering the event, email [email protected]
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