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Gearing up for evening of spectacle and thrills at Tandragee Soapbox Derby

Big crowds expected in town as popular charity event returns after two-year break

Committee chairman Ronnie Thompson, second from right, is preparing for the event, along with members of the committeethe committee

After a break of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tandragee Soapbox Derby will be roaring back next month, promising an evening of thrills and, hopefully, not too many spills.

The popular charity event, which has really caught the public’s imagination over the years and seen some truly eye-catching karts taking part, will take place on Saturday, June 25.

The town’s main street will be transformed for the race, with barriers erected along the route, to keep competitors, marshals and spectators safe.

Up to 8,000 people packed the town the last time the derby was held and the organisers are preparing for big crowds again this year.

Up to 20 entries are expected and, as in previous years, there will be three races, each with their own challenges to test and entertain both the driver and the crowds.

The first, the speed race, is straight down the main street, with some karts reaching speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour.

The second is the chicane, with the layout changed to include several twists and turns, testing not only the driver’s courage but their handling of the machine.

The third and final run is undoubtedly the highlight of the night. This is the same course as race two – but with the addition of a series of ramps ranging in height from six to twelve inches high, with the ‘kicker’ at halfway the most challenging obstacle of all.

The ramps, at six feet wide and eight feet long,  are designed to provide a clean take-off … as lonag as you have the skill and nerve!

All races are timed and will be totalled to give an overall position on the leader board. The overall winner will be the kart with the fastest time.

The event is being organised by a committee of the Tandragee Royal British Legion (RBL) who  have produced a set of helpful regulations, as well as offering tips on constructing your dream machine.

They advise: “BMX bikes can provide great wheels while ply and foam insulation give the outside casing a good covering to decorate on and it’s cheap, or wire mesh and filler foam works just as well.

“Use the web to get ideas on steering methods.  Roll bars are strongly recommended, so think about incorporating them with your push start. Let the imagination run wild on the looks, play safe on the mechanics.”

Both machines and competitors will be inspected prior to each race.

A maximum of four crew members are permitted per team, including the driver, and teams are encouraged to get in the spirit of the event by dressing in team colours or costumes,  advertising who they are and where they are from, plus any charity they represent.

Tayto are the main sponsors, with ABC Council and other local businesses also providing sponsorship.

Tandragee RBL chairman Ronnie Thompson said proceeds will go to the legion, to help support members of the community who are in need.

He said: “Anybody getting it tight, we help them out…so any money that is made goes back into the community.

“We would like to thank Tayto and other local businesses. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to run it.”

The entry fee is £40 per kart and team details, with the race entry fee made out to RBL Tandragee, should be sent to Ronnie Thompson, Tandragee Soapbox Derby, 1 Montague Park, Tandragee, County Armagh, BT62 2NU.

They should arrive by no later than May 31 to guarantee publication into the race programme.

To find out more, go to Tandragee Royal British Legion (RBL) website, contact Ronnie at stadiumdirector@portadownfc.com or phone him on 07833944789.

The derby starts at 6.30pm, with the street closed off from 5pm.

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