Thousands attend Sunderland's first Soap Box Challenge event

Competitors were aiming for soap and glory as the city's first ever Soap Box Challenge got off to a flying start.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 18 August, 2018, 16:26

Forty teams from around the region got on their marks to race down the course in Herrington Country Park in their specially-made motorless vehicles.

From a furry dog car inspired by the film Dumb & Dumber to a Gladiator’s chariot and the Angel of North, there was a host of imaginatively-designed cars to entertain the crowds.

The first North East Soap Box Challenge

It’s expected that crowds reached around 15,000 and although there’s been some teething problems with the inaugural event, including difficulties installing big screens, host Craig Wilde said he was delighted with the outcome.

“The park is absolutely rammed, which is great to see. I’m over the moon about it,” he said. “The cars have been fantastic, we’ve had everything from a giant sausage roll from the Greggs team to a Flintstones car and a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car. There’s been a great variety of causes too, from charities such as Cardioproof, which aims to raise awareness of cardiac arrest, to community groups such as Parkside Community Centre to dad and daughter teams.

“If this is the turn out for the first one in 2018, then the sky’s the limit for 2019.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Among the teams competing was father and daughter team Michael Downing, 43, and Bethany Downing, 22, from Peterlee who raced as Not Too Fast And Only Slightly Furious in their vehicle inspired by the Angel of the North.

The car inspired by Dumb and Dumber

Michael said: “We decided to take part because I like the challenge. I wanted to do something North East related so the Angel of the North seemed an obvious choice. I built it from scratch and it took around a month and half to make. It did ok on the course, I would have liked it to go faster but it’s about competing, not the time.”

Another competitor was T-Services, a group of five colleagues from a repair centre for the waste industry based in Team Valley.

Team member Columb Henry said: “We saw the event on Facebook and decided to take part as a team building exercise. We carry out repairs for the waste industry so the soap box has been made from waste items which were leftover in the workshop. So the actual base of the car is an old go-cart.”

Driver Dan Jardison said: “We could have done with a steeper track for extra speed, but it drove well and there was a great turn out, so it was a good atmosphere.”