The UK's first Red Bull Soapbox Race post-Covid draws huge crowds

Wacky races! Thousands descend on London’s Alexandra Palace to watch amateur racers go head to head the first Red Bull SOAPBOX Race in the UK since the Covid pandemic

  • Amateur racers from all over the world competed in the annual Red Bull Soapbox Race in London today
  • Around 70 teams of spectators descended on Alexandra Palace for the first event to go ahead since Covid 
  • The homemade non-motorised soapboxes sped along the downhill course, with many breaking to pieces
  • Wacky designs featured a duck on a spring, a Simpsons-themed soapbox and even a street sweeper vehicle

Amateur racers from around the world have donned wacky costumes to take part in Red Bull’s Soapbox Race.

Thousands of spectators descended on Alexandra Palace in London on Sunday to witness the annual event.

Around 70 teams of amateur drivers and crews were tasked with creating homemade non-motorised soapboxes to race on the steep downhill course.

One team called Rookie Duckies travelled from Lancashire to take part in the race for the first time with their soapbox called Quack-In-A-Box.

It was inspired by the concept of a jack-in-the-box with a giant duck on a spring and the team members dressed up as a duck and a huge egg.

Amateur racers from around the world competed today in the annual Red Bull Soap Box Race, donning wacky costumes and racing in homemade vehicles

Thousands of spectators descended on Alexandra Palace in London to get a glimpse of the racers speed downhill in their non-motorised vehicles

One vehicle kitted out with road sweeper brushes and a doll of Death on its back went by the name ‘The Grim Sweeper’

The soapboxes competed this year in the first competition since the Covid pandemic 

Each team consisted of four people – which included one driver, one co-driver and two pit crew

 As well as ramps over which the soapboxes had to leap, there were puddles of water that soaked the drivers and tested their vehicles’ integrity over the course of the race

A team from Lancashire made a vehicle they called Quack-In-A-Box, with a duck’s head bouncing around on a large spring 

The soapboxes were made from a range of lightweight materials, such as polystyrene and cardboard

Melanie Heyworth, Rookie Duckies pilot, said: ‘We haven’t a clue what we’re doing but we’re here for the laughs.

‘We wanted a design that would make people smile, so general silliness, over-the-top costumes and lots of colour were our main objectives.’

‘The teams have been great – lots of support, lots of camaraderie.’

Each team consisted of four people – which included one driver, one co-driver and two pit crew.

Many of the crews were inspired by their favourite TV shows and fictional characters from films including Top Gun, Harry Potter and Ghostbusters.

One team called The Handsome Homers included a large doughnut on their bright pink soapbox, called the Pink Lightning, inspired by The Simpsons.

The crew crashed on the first jump as their whole vehicle ‘exploded’.

‘This is our third year doing the Red Bull Soapbox event and we really enjoy it,’ Dan, one of The Handsome Homers, said.

‘I think we are starting to build a theme of crashing on the first jump which is exactly what we did in 2019 and exactly what we did this year.

‘We went over that first jump, nose-hit the ground, the whole thing exploded – polystyrene and pieces of car went everywhere… And we had to pull the entire thing down the hill just like we did in 2019.’

Another team called Rebel Alliance, who are from Sherfield on Loddon, Hampshire, said they had been preparing their Star Wars-themed soapbox since 2018.

Given the treacherous course and the vehicles’ lack of suspension, drivers were equipped with mandatory helmets

A safari-themed soapbox with a toy tiger in a netted part on the back was also spotted in the fray

The teams drew inspiration for their designs from TV shows, films and other sources to come up with an extremely diverse assortment of colourful soapboxes

One team of four distinguished themselves by wearing hats that made them look like avians

With no suspension on the homemade vehicles, the drivers suffered a very bumpy ride as they soared through the air after racing up ramps 

Called Rebel Alliance X Wing, it had four wings which crossed in an X formation, and the team dressed in Star Wars-themed costumes, including Storm Trooper outfits.

Team member Hayley Claughton, 42, said: ‘Performing in front of cameras, our family and friends is nerve-wracking but very exciting.

‘Our soapbox has been in the making since 2018 but Covid got in the way.

‘We all loved the Red bull Soapbox competition and figured after so much time apart with lockdown it would be a great project for our three families to work on.

‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a dream of ours.’

The teams also dressed up to match the themes displayed by their soapboxes 

Waterproofing the vehicles was a priority for teams, due to the presence of puddles on the track which caused grip and material integrity issues for some of the less well designed vehicles

Crowds lined up in their thousands to get a brief glimpse of the roughly 70 vehicles in competition 

Not all of the soapboxes modelled themselves on cars, with one trying to ape the appearance of an aircraft

A team by the name of the ‘Handsome Homers’ made a Simpsons-themed soapbox that ‘exploded’ on its first jump

Some of the teams said they had been working on their vehicles for years, because Covid led to the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events 

Another group, Team Oral Health, are hoping to clean up on the track in their vehicle promoting good dental hygiene, racing in a toothpaste-shaped soapbox called You Know The Drill.

Dressed in scrubs with blue gloves and armed with toothbrushes, they are a team of dentists and hope to encourage people to floss.

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