Wacky soapbox racers raise charity cash

THE speeds may occasionally reach just 22mph – but the competition was as fierce as any Grand Prix.

After months of work in sheds and garages the day of reckoning came for the intrepid and brave racers who took part in the Sharlston Soap Box Derby in Sharlston, near Wakefield.

The wacky racing down the hill from Sharlston Green drew crowds who lined the road down to the finish line at the junction with West Lane.

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Some wore fancy dress, while others preferred to look the part in racing-style overalls.

Organisers stipulated that the karts must be home-made and fitted with an effective brake, but some crashed into straw bales just after the finish line.

Rules state that each kart must contain two racers and that the contraptions must be home-made and be free from any form of power, whether that is an engine or pedals.

The stretch of hill used in the race is steep enough to allow a freewheeling bicycle to reach 22mph and organisers insisted that those taking part wear head protection – a motorcycle or bicycle helmet – along with protective gloves and sensible footwear.

This year's chosen charity was Martin House children's hospice at Boston Spa, near Wetherby.

Money was raised from competition entrance fees, raffles, collections and race betting.

A prize of 100 along with the coveted White Horse Challenge Trophy were won this year by Team Badboy.

The team won through in a format which includes 12 qualifying races, each consisting of two or three karts in each.

Competitors this year entered a variety of weird and wonderful wheeled contraptions, some with three wheels and others with four or more.

The races began at 11.30am on New Year's Day, with a race finale in the early afternoon.

Video highlights showing the thrills and spills are posted by the organisers on the video sharing website YouTube.