They came in their thousands and packed the sides of Forge Hill to see the dramatic Aldington Soapbox Derby of 2013.
There were go-carts of every description but like Formula One, things have come a long way since a soap box, a pair of pram wheels and a piece of string were the main ingredients. NOW THEY HAVE BRAKES! The brakes are compulsory and every chariot is inspected before the start. They come in all shapes and sizes, some are designed for sheer speed, others have a more aesthetic look and a number can be described as spectacular, like the entry of Mark Holt and Darren Long, which came in the shape of an aircraft billowing smoke as it sped down the hill.
All carts were named. Little Red Shark, Trottermobil, Chitty Bang Bang, The Widowmaker, Wild Willy and A La Carte to name but a few.
They raced in twos. Speeding down to the first chicane where, if they arrived together, all hell broke lose, wheels came off and carts ground to a halt. Once the chicane was successfully negotiated there was a sharp corner to get round and a steep slope down to the finish at the bus stop.
The race route was lined from end to end with spectators, many of whom have seen every event since go-carting first came to Aldington. It used to be an annual competition but has recently become biannual and shares the Bank Holiday date on alternate years with the local Raft Race.
It is a family occasion. The Aldington Village Green was packed with craft stalls, a funfair, refreshment facilities, and entertainment on an outdoor stage the featured singers and dancers and live bands.
The ‘Mayor of Aldington’ Pete Yeo, was commentator throughout the event and prizes were presented to the winning drivers at the famous old smugglers Inn, The Walnut Tree, which sits on the start line and did sterling service, quenching the thirst and serving food to the many never ending procession of spectators making their way down, and later, back up the track, It was an enormously successful day, staged by the voluntary Aldington Soapbox Committee in aid of Pilgrims Hospices.
“Rye’s Own” October 2013
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