Soap box champions

By Jared Smith

It took a little while to get it sorted, mainly one could assume to sort through all the carnage, but the prize winners from January's Wanganui Soap Box Derby received their due yesterday.

In a ceremony at Pak'n Save Wanganui, over a dozen winners, runners-up and survivors from the inaugural stampede down Queen's Park into Drews Ave on January 21 received sponsor gift baskets.

There were well over 70 entries across the various categories for the event, which led to some scrambling by the organisers on the day to sort out different classes for the array of home-made vehicles.

So yesterday's ceremony recognised not only those who were the best but also the glorious best of the worst after all, a spectacular end-over-end crash is just as entertaining to the crowd, just more painful to experience.

In that vein, the 'Garmac Panda' aka Sam Doyle received the overall Hero of the Day prize for his exploits.

"The crowd was chanting him down the hill," said co-organiser Leighton Minnell, the world champion jetboater. "He was the first one to go off the ramp, over the ramp, through the ramp, crashed on his head, he went through eight wheels.

"Three to four thousand people chanting 'Panda, panda, panda!'."

Doyle agreed going into the race his official costume was not the most conducive to competitive racing. "I knew that, I didn't really have much choice in what I got to wear."

Wanganui Chronicle's own Viv Johnson received a similar prize for his massive prang straight into the tarmac.

The derby idea was hatched by Wanganui speed freaks Minnell, racer Mick Paul, who is after Burt Munro's land speed record, and More FM radio host Jason Granville.

Minnell and Granville said with the experience of the debut event under their belts, it will definitely be back in 2014.

Minnell said he knew schoolchildren and a number of kids-at-heart are already tinkering away in their sheds for next year.

Keep an eye on the website for more information.


Soap Box Derby category winners

Nippers: Troy Teki, Shelby Lee.

Zoomers: Shea Robinson, Chase Morpeth, Campbell Monk, ARLO.

Sprinters: Thomas Johnson, Owen Whiteman, Ben Hood, Jack Medlicott.

Open: 'Panda' Sam Doyle, Worlds Fastest Injun, Dave Burroughs, Viv Johnson, Pak'n Save (also First Crash and 'To Hospital').

- Wanganui Chronicle

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