International Shoe Box Racing-2018
It was the second Wednesday in March, so it must be Shoebox race night and like a well oiled machine the Start Ramp and Track teams with other committee members, set up the arena in the Stables bar and arranged the spectators seating to afford the best viewing for the 46 fans of the sport attending. This was the 9th running of the Leadenham Gravity Shoebox Racing Associations GP at this venue and hopefully we will be able to continue, after the new tenants take over later in the year.
18 of the 20 entrants, presented for Scrutiny at the appointed hour and it was apparent that lots of work had taken place since last year’s event and with no fewer than 4 previous winners in the mix, stiff competition was inevitable. Encouragingly, there were 5 Novices entered, which bodes well for the future, plus this year being a celebration of 100 years since women were given the vote, we had no less than 5 lady entrants. The main issues at Scrutiny were weight related, one entrant being 2.5 oz over the 14 oz maximum allowed, in this case, a rear mounted aerofoil in sheet lead was allowed to be trimmed to the correct limit, using a set of lead shears, the entrant happened to have in his tool box!
Concurrent with all this activity, our very experienced Technical Excellence Award Judge, Andy Storer, was fully engaged with the innovative interpretations of the Regs by the entrants, which ranged from scale representations of several Austin 7 models, a 1925, Hanomag 2/10ps with coil suspension, a Type 35 Bugatti, a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost recovery truck, Santa in his Sleigh and all the way to the simple wedge or box shaped entries, who were obviously after only one prize. Fortunately, his task was made slightly easier by the use of a quantitative evaluation system, which breaks the judgement down to the 5 main elements of construction, for which a maximum of 10 points are awarded to each, followed by a discretionary vote, in the event of a draw. Andy was very impressed by the standard of build quality this year and those racers using some form of suspension to absorb the sleeping policemen hazards were to prove this was the way forward. The first 3 cars were separated by 3 points, with the winner gaining a total of 41 out of a possible 50!
As our audience took to their vantage points for the night, not only did they have a programme of the event, with all contestants listed and a score card, they also had slips, on which they had to indicate which racer they would most like to take home and which racer had provided the most entertainment on the night. As usual, Julia Bingham ran her very popular Sweepstake on who would be the winner of the Main event, to add a bit of spice to the proceedings but finally the racing got underway.
As each racer was aligned in the start gate, our MC for the night, Peter Rowlands, was able to introduce the drivers and their mounts in some detail to the assembly, so we were regaled with the latest adventures of Titus Thitcum, from Barnsley and other drivers including a man made of bolts, split pins and washers, a rat, a dog chasing a bone, Miss Pinky Pong, Penelope Pitstop and even Santa Clause. The finer points of each racer was described in detail, to enlighten those new to the concept and with a blast on the Acme Thunderer, to clear the track, the racing began.
Because we had previously had problems fitting some entries under the start gantry and the perceived quality of this field, the ramp height for the first run was slightly lower than last year, so it was with some surprise that only 9 racers made it to the full course length. Of course, to qualify for any of the awards on the night, the racer must have run down the ramp and have a measure of distance achieved, so at least this first phase was achieved and 3 of these fell short by less than 9” on the 24 foot long course.
After 5 exciting knock out stages, at decreasing slope angles, the field was whittled down to just 2 entries for the final run, Cliff Ringrose with Santa’s Sleigh and Cassandra Ulph’s entry, the Rolls Royce Recovery truck. As was suggested earlier both these entries incorporated sophisticated suspension systems in their design, Cliffs design was so effective that it induced motion sickness to some of the spectators, but it was Cassandra who took the honours by 1.32” in 144.67 ft of racing, to great applause, a double first, i.e. the first lady entrant to win and the first novice entry to win. Gravity Shoebox Racing GP’s don’t have a Manufacturers award but I suspect Cassandra’s Dad was very proud of his daughters achievement anyway, after all Mercedes rarely get credit for Lewis Hamilton’s genius.
The Technical Award was no less competitive, as was described earlier and Howard Pell and Pell Mel took the honours with his, seemingly quarter scale replica of an RN Saloon, closely followed by Dennis Bingham’s Blue Streak and Ian Bancroft with Pinky Pong 3rd.
Throughout the evening, the spectators had been voting and the Concours winner as defined as the racer, most wanted to take home, was a runaway victory for Ben Gadsby (another novice entry!) and his Bugatti replica, whilst the Novelty Award, again by some margin, went to Cliff Ringrose and his Santa’s Sleigh.
A first time spectator thought we were all barking but wouldn’t have missed it for anything, so all in all a brilliant evening’s entertainment thanks to entrants, spectators, set up teams and of course, our sponsors, Witham Oil, Ian Bancroft Restorations, Ray Butler Ltd. Electrical Contractors and Chandlers County Store, without whom of course, none of this would be taken seriously.
The prize winners:-
More photos of Showbox night
Line up of some of the entries
The Winner of the race entered by Cassandra Ulph
Ben Gadsby’s Concours Winner
Technical Innovation Winner run by Howard Pell
Santa’s Sleigh owned by Cliff Ringrose won the Novelty Prize
Ian Bancroft’s Racer with Miss Pinky Pong was third in the Race
Stuart Ulph’s model of a 1925 Hanomag racer
Bruce’s Bomber run by Bruce Robinson
Tony Saward’s Cutting Edge Racer
Ray Duggleby’s Rocket Ray driven by Bolt man