And they’re off... teams set for soapbox derby

A hair-raising moment for competitors at last year's event.
A hair-raising moment for competitors at last year's event.

Tandragee Soapbox Derby is back for the third year tomorrow (Saturday) with at least 18 home-designed go-karts ready to battle it out in three separate races.

The event, organised by the Tandragee branch of the Royal British Legion, attracted hundreds of people last year and equally big crowds are expected this weekend.

The teams are raising money for their chosen charities and the design of most of the finished soapboxes is being kept under wraps - with the surprise unveilings being saved for race day.

The town will close at 5pm and the first race, a speed one, is at 6pm. The route is straight down the hill, with the competitors being towed back up again courtesy of Diamond Trikes.

The second race, a chicane run, is designed to test the drivers’ skill and steering.

The final course, over jumps, is probably the most challenging and, said Paul Bowbanks, president of the Tandragee branch of RBL, certainly the most entertaining.

He said, “We have competitors coming from Londonderry, Monaghan, Belfast and Carrickfergus. It’s pure family fun and it’s a good way to bring people into the town.”

The event is sponsored by Tayto and a number of other local businesses, and among those entering are Tayto and fellow Tandragee firm Speedicook.

CampingNI, who are staying at Clare Glen Caravan Park over the weekend, are taking part for the first time and have revealed that their soapbox will be in the shape of a motor home.

They are raising funds for three charities - TinyLife NI, Dementia NI and Autism NI - and have secured sponsorship from a range of companies.

The team includes Gary Vogan, owner of CampingNI Portadown, and juniors Matthew Vogan, Portadown, and Reece Beattie from Markethill.

Mr Bowbanks also revealed that another race will be introduced next year - the Great Tandragee Bathtub Race down the Cusher River, with the rule that the vessel must have started life as an original bathtub.