Slippery slope to fun and glory

By Iain Hyndman

The Pak 'N Save Soap Box Derby has all the ingredients to get the adrenalin pumping for both competitors and spectators on the final day of the Vintage Weekend - Wanganui 2013.

Take a steep hill, add trolleys built for speed, mix in a Wall of Death and a Jump and this half baked idea becomes an exciting reality on Wellington Anniversary Day Monday.

The idea was hatched by three well-known Wanganui speed freaks - New Zealand and World Champion jetsprint driver Leighton Minnell, Mick Paul, who is off to the States later this year to break Burt Munro's land speed record for retro motorcycles, and 92.8 More FM radio host Jason Granville, who just talks fast.

The trio initially had Portal St in Durie Hill in mind for the hill, but closing off a state highway (Anzac Pde) was not on, so a track starting from Queens Park turning into Drews Ave was settled on.

"We decided to add a bit more excitement so we created the Garmac Engineering Wall of Death, which is a steep camber on the sharp lefthand bend from Queens Park into the top of Drews Ave. That will give racers speed heading down the hill," Minnell said.

"We then thought another obstacle would be appropriate and added the Bunnings Jump on the intersection with Ridgway St. The finish line is near the intersection with Rutland St."

The race categories were split to cater for the entire community and while entries for the older age groups and open grade are bordering on full, there is still places available for the younger set.

"We have about 70 entries in total so far, but we can still probably squeeze in a few kids," Granville said.

Pac 'N Save came on board as the major sponsor - along with several other local businesses - and manager Gareth Jones was keen to be actively involved.

"We commissioned our store maintenance man, Mac McOnie, to build three soap box derby karts from our old supermarket trolleys and staff members will compete in them," Jones said.

"Getting involved is our way of giving back to a community we are a big part of. It's going to be pretty exciting action."

Paul said the rules of the derby allow for two pushers to give the driver a flying start and all competitors are required to wear protective head gear.

Drift trikes are also a part of the action and Wanganui's own (car) drifting exponent, Rick Lee, will judge the section. He may also give a display in his car.

The three speed feaks may also give it a crack if time allows.

Vintage Weekend - Wanganui 2013 begins with the River City Caboodle in Victoria and Ave and Ridgway St on Saturday between 10am and midnight featuring a street festival, entertainment, fashions from bygone eras, and musical gems. On Sunday Groove by the Riverside runs between 10am and 4pm on the waterfront with live music, food and wine and nifty boat parades will entertain, while the soap box derby winds up the weekend on Monday with racing starting at 9am.

Race categories


The trolley driver is 5 years of age or younger on race day. Free Entry


The trolley driver is between the ages of 6 and 10 years of age on race day. Entry Fee $10 per trolley


The trolley driver is between the ages of 11 and 14 years of age on race day. Entry Fee $10 per trolley

Drift trikes

The trolley driver is 15 years of age or over on race day. Entry Fee $10 per trolley


Open to anyone. Entry Fee $20 per trolley

- Wanganui Chronicle

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