The 10th of September was the day of the Walkerville Dare To Dream Soap Box Derby!

The competition is held twice a year to raise funds for the Dare To Dream Organisation, working primarily with children with life-threatening illnesses.

Our ‘Top Gun’ team consisted of 6 BESA pupils: Jade Todd (Charlie), Nicholas de Abreu (Iceman), Sam Christov (Goose), Steven Botha (Maverick), Matthew Vokes (Hollywood) and Ethan Foxcroft (Merlin).

The sun rose over the ‘Walkervillian’ mountains as the 6-man BESA team strode down the drag strip, ready for the festivities to begin. We were here for the win, to “bring it”, as they say. Little did we realise that this was Walkerville, meaning that our 8am arrival time was way, way too early. We were the only ones there, nobody to see our intimidating walk, nobody to envy our uniforms – there may have been a cow or two that witnessed our arrival, though it doesn’t make us feel any better.

Anyway…

We set up our awesome BESA Gazebo’s in our allocated space. Thank you to Mr Botha for helping us assemble the gazebos and get our spot ready for the day’s racing.

At about 9ish, people started to arrive. Things were hotting up! Most of the carts are built by race organiser, Greg Wheatly. He and his crew have assembled a number of carts which they hire out to participating teams. Ours was the purple cart, a cart we had success with when we raced in the March leg of the competition – winning in our first participation in the event. We were hoping that it would be a good omen for this competition.

The event works as follows:

Competing teams race downhill in their human-powered carts, making a sharp 90 degree turn before the finish and pushing their way to the finish once around the bend. It should be noted that sand is placed on the corner, making turning a little tricky. In scientific terms: speed + sand + turning = probable crash.

Each team has 5 runs down the course. Each run is timed, and the teams with the best average time for their 3 best runs goes to the quarter finals. Thereafter the best 4 times go into the semis and the top 2 times from the semis make it to the final.

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Our 5 runs passed by without too much turmoil or stress. We won a few races, though having a fast time was the main aim. Steven (Maverick) was our designated driver for the day, driving faultlessly. The rest of the crew was in charge of propulsion and well… propulsion. While watching these races you can’t help but think of the film ‘Cool Runnings’ where the Jamaican Bobsled team participates in the winter Olympics. At the starts, I’m sure I heard Jade cheering “Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s BESA TIME!.”

We strolled into the quarter finals. Unfortunately Sam (Goose) had another appointment to attend so he had to leave before the quarter final race. Besides, Nicholas (Iceman) hadn’t even broken a sweat yet and Steven (Maverick) was only warming up. We were bringing it…

Our semi final line up was driver Steven (Maverick), Nicholas (Iceman), Jade (Charlie) and Matthew (Hollywood). Our only concern was our next opponent. The mythical creature called ‘Mustang’. The Mustang cart has been meticulously built with the strictest attention to detail by race organiser Greg. The cart is aerodynamically shaped with wheels made from Aluminium to reduce weight. The team has been competing together on Mustang for many years so they are always the team to beat.

3, 2, 1, Gooooooooooooo!

We pushed off, neck and neck with Mustang. Our team members hopped in and tucked themselves down as low as possible to reduce air resistance. Mustang started pulling away slightly but Steven (Maverick) tucked our cart in behind Mustang to gain a slipstream advantage. We started gaining on them, so much so that we moved alongside, on the inside line, just before the corner. At this point I should mention that we had no brakes, they broke after our second run when the brake-fluid reservoir was damaged. As we entered the corner we were carrying way too much speed after the excellent tow we received from Mustang. The extra speed meant that instead of turning, we kinda went much straighter than we should have. Being on the inside of the corner, it meant that Mustang was now blocked on the outside – meaning they were forced to go straight as well.

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Entering the corner
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Moment of impact
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Push to the finish

Both carts thundered into the tyre barrier on the outside of the corner. Nicholas (Iceman) was catapulted from the cart, landing on his feet like the ‘cool cat’ he was. It was chaos for a split second as both teams battled to free their carts from the tyre wall and push the carts to the finish. Both teams ended up being really slow as a result of the accident and were subsequently out of the final…or so we thought.

The race stewards decided that since our cart hampered the progress of the Mustang cart our semi final had to be re-run. Our team spent all their energy in the first semi-final so for the second semi, we didn’t perform very well. Mustang ended up cruising into the final, which they won in the end.

We finished in 3rd place for the day – not a bad start for a group of Grade 11 & grade 8 rookies. We won the trophy for best crash, and what a crash it was! We gained valuable experience, which will help us to take the trophy in March next year. Mustang schmustang!

All in all, a tremendous day was had by all. Valuable funds were raised for Dare To Dream, which is what the day was all about.

Thanks to Mr Young (Viper) and Mr Bowker (Stinger) for assisting the team while Mr Preddy (Slider) had to step out for a while.

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Well done BESA Top Gun Team – we’ll be back in 2017.

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