We travelled up to Scotland in July
2011 to join the field of 40 declared runners
for the event.
On the way up we were optimistically hoping
that our wooden effort would be capable of
getting into the top 20 carts... After walking
around the car park to see the other bogies, this
changed to "Let's not come last" !
Our first test run showed up a massive flaw
in the steering. 'Any' play became 'Too much'
play !. We quit qualifying after the first run
and sought out a welding facility where our
steering column could be welded into one piece
thus taking the play out of the bolted joints.
Steering corrected, we started off gingerly
in the head to head racing. It would be true to
admit the bogie was indeed superior to the
driver, but against the odds, we managed to come
14th overall - flattering us somewhat.
So what next ?
We had now met several of the gravity racing
community and heard that the event at Dalby
Forest shouldn't be missed. We spoke to the
organisers and secured a place there.
Improvements had to be made to the cart... I
added a motorcycle steering damper at the end of
the steering linkage - As seen on several bogies
at Carirngorm. I also invested in two new
wheels, constructed using 20mm straight through
mountain bike hubs built into 20" BMX double
Since I was using 14mm axles, it was
decided to remove the forks and go for single
side mounting of the wheels. This also meant the
purchase and fitting of two disc brakes at the
Seen here going through scrutineering...
Another addition to the team was getting
Scott to drive as well as myself - this would, I
hoped, stop me 'Whimping out' and blaming the
cart - I knew he wouldn't !
Our times actually improved on every run
during the weekend, and whilst we didn't trouble
the winners, we felt happy with our performance.
To cap it all, we received our first ever trophy
- "Best turned out".
We were 'Well chuffed' !
At Dalby Forest, we heard that Screwfix were
holding an 'Off-Road' bogie championship...We
managed to get a late entry into the regional
heat at Shropshire...
The racing started badly when I managed to
roll the cart, giving us our first ever DNF and
crash on our first run .. !
However... I managed
to change the damaged wheel for a spare and
Scott was unstoppable in the senior event, with
son Dominic winning the junior event by some
This gave us qualification into the finals in
Scotland. Further modifications were required. I
had noted that we needed bearing holders on
the wheels - they were coming adrift !
We were once again up against experienced teams,
Scott came 5th in the senior event with Dom
taking 2nd in the junior class.
This ended the racing for 2011...
Late in the year I saw a gravity racer for
sale on ebay and bid for it. We won the auction.
The cart needed massive modifications to bring
it up to spec' but seemed a good winter project.
I changed all four wheels, the complete braking
system. I modified the top of the chassis to
allow me to fit into it ! I also wanted to fit a
The 2012 season was fast approaching, and
rather optimistically I entered "Where's me
spanners ?" into the Scottish Cartie Association
Due to unforeseen circumstance, the new cart
wasn't ready for the first run of the 2012
season at "Border Bogies". But we had used it's
trailer to take WMS I to the event. I elected
not to drive at all, letting Andy and Dominic
take two runs each down the hill. We weren't too
quick, but things could get better. At least the
cart seemed easily controllable.
Catterline was another SCA event. Andy and
myself took the cart up to Stonehaven to enter.
We had a minor hiccough when Andy caught an
obstacle under the cart on run two - but we
picked up more championship points due to others
having similar problems with the course.
Then to Cairngorm extreme 2012. The new cart
was almost ready, but I took the tried and
tested WMS I - Now nicknamed "Stacy's Mum'
There was 'Unfinished business' to attend to
with our wooden soapbox... I had designed and
expected it to exceed 50mph... here was its
chance. Despite the heavy rain we achieved this
milestone on practice run #2. Inexperience of
head to head gravity racing saw me over brake to
avoid a collision and come third in our second
heat... (Should have simply driven around the
problem ! ) This would relegate us down the
rankings. Hence I decided to let Dominic take
over driving duties giving him experience of
head to head racing for the first time.
The event was marked by a spectacular crash
involving two of the fastest carts during the
final. This ruled out the favourite for the SCA
championship... They would be unable to run in
the Annandale event the next day.
Annandale cup was run through all weathers
possible ! - Bright sunshine, hailstone,
biblical rain then sunny again ! This made runs
once again difficult and saw us pick up more
points due to dogged determination to run every
heat and finish every heat...
In fact, a look at the score card showed us
to have indeed amassed enough points to pick up
the SCA Cartie championship ! - Now that was an
outcome we'd not seen coming a few months
It was a great drive home to Charlesworth
with the wooden bogie... Knowing it had done
it's job and could retire on a high.
Our next event was Belchford 2012...
We had hitherto not entered this event. I had
thought the chicanes too severe and had seen
(Via Youtube) several really great soapbox
racers end their days here... However... I now
had cart #2, why not have a last blast with cart
We had three safe runs, all without penalty
and recorded a sub one minute run... Not bad for
a wooden box built in my garage... And since the
race didn't run in 2013, I was really glad we
had been there.
Two cart family...
It was time to let cart #2 have a go... Dalby
Once again this was a fantastic event spread
over two days. The course and campsite is set
deep within the forest making 'off-site' staying
in a hotel not really feasible. Jules wanted to
come along, so we hired a deluxe mobile home for
the weekend !
Scott returned to driving duties, so Scott,
Dom and myself took turns each driving the two
carts with one driver being crew for each run.
Thankfully cart #2 proved to be far quicker
than the old wooden box, its full suspension
really helping out.
It wasn't even set up correctly, so it gave high hopes for the future...
2013 was a year of cancelled races - the
Catterline course fell into the sea during a
storm ! - Cairngorm was deemed too dangerous...
Dalby wasn't going to happen, Belchford a none
starter... A new event at Drumlanrig was
cancelled at the 11th hour...
First event - Border Bogies 2013...
The cart had it's full canopy and was
well set up...
Two film crews were here... One was for 'Dave'
filming a hopeful crew entered in the Red Bull
event to be held at Alexandra Palace. Their
filming saw the first television appearance of
the "Where's me spanners ?" team as they filmed
me coming towards the finish as the commentary
was talking about Spitphya's chances in the
event... "And they've realised they just may be
a bit off the pace... "
It was easy to see I was driving and not Dom as
the bogie was running ... i.e.
not upside down...
Dom had the most spectacular crash here...
(Video available !)
I had set quite a decent time on the first run,
which had been encouraging, but now... No canopy
remaining, cart all smashed up and bent... set
up knackered... Back to square one...
And team Spitphya ? - They were completely
out gunned for speed against the 'Real' racers
here... But with their fantastic bodywork in
place, they went on to win the Red Bull event !
Event 2 - Hawksland Hill...
Unusual this one - they don't time the bogies...
You run down one hill and as far as you can get
up the other side ! Only two 'Real' soapbox
racers pitched up, though the locals were still
impressed with them - they'd never seen a
'Serious' gravity racer before. In the event, we
were still running with wheels out of alignment,
seeing us a poor second to Team Rooket. This
pretty much assured them of the SCA championship
Our next trip out was to Worlaby. They had
run a smaller event in 2012, but now with an
extended course it was hoped this could be
superb... And so it turned out to be !! We made
a pretty good effort here, coming well up the
rankings - it may have been better had not Dom
decided to have another 'Off world' adventure -
Not so dramatic - the cart was easily fixed and
I set our fastest run after his spin.
Final event for 2013 - Brechin.
Part of the town's Halloween celebrations, this
was a fantastic event that not even the
miserable weather could spoil. The course runs
straight down the High Street. This too had seen
an extension from the previous year and
benefitted massively from it.
We finished being placed third fastest from
the long list of entries. Beaten only by 'Team
Rooket' and 'Centa Bavaria' - No shame in this -
In fact, given their presence, I had assumed we
were fighting for third place with all the other
entries - some of which looked genuinely serious
contenders for the future...
So what for 2014 ?
I'd really like to crack on with the design
and build of cart #3
For 2014 onwards... Click