Walkerville Soap Box Derby 2017

Helmets, check! Gloves, check! Goggles, check! 3, 2, 1…GO!

Downhill racing is scary!

Who would have thought being propelled downhill by nothing more than human power and gravity could be so exhilarating and adrenaline-filled?

3 BESA teams readied themselves for the challenge that lie ahead. The minimum requirement for the challenge? Go downhill as fast as possible in a race against the clock.

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For Kyle, Deniel, Ethan, Donovan, Bruce, Matthew, Damian, Sam, Justin and Jade the racing couldn’t come soon enough. We had arrived at 9 to set up our spot and get our carts ready for the 10am start. Walkerville has its own time-zone (GMT +2) evidently so what was meant to be a 10am start ended up being more like an 11am start. The additional wait only served to motivate our teams even more so when the time came to do our first runs we were more than ready.

The competition works like this:

Each team has 5 ‘preliminary’ runs to set a best time. Carts do not race down the hill alone though, each run is against another team even though the finishing position is not important – it’s all based on time.

The fortunes of each of our teams varied from casual runs, to neck-and-neck competition, to sheer domination, to wild visits to the tyre wall. It must be said that all of the visits to the tyre wall were made by the grade 8 team. Deniel still maintains that he was not at fault at all, there’s no need to place the blame on the driver. Perhaps he only needs a bit more practice to hone his skills. Clearly there’s a reason why 14 year-olds are not allowed to drive vehicles.

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For the grade 9 and grade 12 teams the tyre wall was not even a consideration. Smooth driving from Bruce and Justin meant that each run was completed in good time with no harm coming to any of the team members. A rather unfortunate even occurred ahead of Justin (and the Grade 12 team) during one of the downhill runs in which a member of the opposing team fell from the cart upon turning the corner. She lifted herself from the sand and attempted to chase down her team’s cart – it was at this stage that she stumbled and fell, causing herself some injury. Justin was wearing a GoPro on his helmet and so caught it all on record. To view the video, go to our Facebook page to witness the mayhem. We wish the lady who fell everything of the best for a fast and full recovery.

Once each team had completed their 5 runs, the top 8 fastest teams qualified for the quarter finals. All 3 of our teams qualified for the quarter finals so it was all systems go in the pursuit of a place in the semi-finals. The opposition was irrelevant – it was us against the clock. The runs were uneventful and well-performed by each of our BESA teams. The grade 9 team and the grade 12 team managed to qualify for the semis with the grade 8 team narrowly missing out by only 1 second.

By this time the early afternoon sun was taking its toll on the competitors so it was time for a short break. The break was used to fill up on liquids, have a bite to eat and mentally prepare for the semi-finals. The family fun race took place during this time where small children or any other volunteers were treated to a shortened run down the hill on the carts. A great way to give the unaccustomed a feel of the downhill derby.

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And so it was on to the semis…

Our teams managed to avoid each other for the draw so at least they wouldn’t be competing against each other in this knock-out round. Even though it was still based on time it felt good to know that we had a team in each semi-final. At this stage we were well rehearsed and fully prepared for the demands of the race ahead of us.

For some reason both of our teams got off to poor starts for their semi-final runs which made attaining the final qualifying time a much more difficult task. Being BESArians, we weren’t giving up though. We tucked ourselves down and got into the ‘hyper-speed’ position. Maybe it was all in our minds but we definitely felt like we were gaining on the teams ahead of us. Needless to say, our efforts ended up being in vain since neither of our teams managed to qualify for the final. We definitely gave it everything.

So in the end the grade 9 team finished 4th and the grade 12 team finished in 3rd place. Not too shabby for a group of novices giving downhill racing a go for the first time.

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We all had a tremendous day out at the Walkerville Downhill Soap Box Derby and we’re looking forward to improving on the performances of this year in the future. Please get involved and support this worthy cause next year – you will be sure to have a terrific experience and it’s all for charity…so come racing with us!

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