THOUSANDS of people are expected to pack the city centre on Sunday (May 1) for Bradford’s first Super Soapbox Challenge.
The thrilling home-made kart-racing event will be formally kicked off at 11am by Bradford City footballer Matty Foulds, with activities going on until 5.30pm.
The fun-packed free event, which has been commissioned and sponsored by Bradford Business Improvement District (BID), is expected to draw crowds of around 20,000 people.
Jonny Noble, manager of the BID – the limited not-for-profit company funded by more than 600 levy-paying businesses and organisations to help promote and develop the city centre – said: “The stage is set for this to be a really fantastic family event.
“As well as the thrills, spills and drama of the soapbox races, there will be lots of fun activities going on around the course.
“It’s going to be great family day out and we would encourage people to come for the day, have a meal and drink and just soak up what we’re sure is going to be a really brilliant atmosphere!”
More than 20 teams have signed up for the soapbox racing and organisers are expecting some whacky themes and amazing, off-the-wall contraptions to compete.
Over and above trophies for the top racers, entrants will compete for awards such as “Most Innovative Cart Design,” “Best Turned-out Soapbox crew” and even “Joker of the Day!”
Andrew Pearson, events marketing director at the organisers, The Super Soapbox Challenge Company, said: “It will be a fantastic, free community event for Bradford and we’re really looking forward to seeing what the teams comes up with in terms of designs for their soapboxes and racing themes.
“It’ll be a great day out for all the family with continual commentary and all the action visible on large format screens. As well as the excitement on the course itself, there’ll be live music and lots of local food and drink outlets to choose from.”
The team “pits” will be based at the bottom of Westgate and the races will start from a ramp on Kirkgate, near the Bradford Mechanics Institute. The route runs along Kirkgate before swinging right down Bank Street, then turning right again into Tyrrel Street before finishing at the bottom of Ivegate.
The entire course will have security fencing and hay bales will be in place to protect participants and spectators.
“We’ve visited all the businesses along the route to make sure everyone knows what’s happening and when and to ensure the route will be as safe as possible,” said Mr Noble.
Some roads in the city centre will be closed to vehicles from 11am on Saturday, April 30, to 11pm on Sunday, May 1. They include the full lengths of Ivegate, Upper Millergate, Kirkgate, Queensgate, Hustlergate and Piece Hall Yard; Westgate, from its junction with Godwin Street to its junction with Kirkgate; Bank Street, from its junction with Darley Street to its junction with Market Street; and Darley Street, from its junction with Godwin Street to its junction with Bank Street.
BID chair Ian Ward said: “These soapbox events take place across many cities in the UK as well as Europe and they are increasingly popular so we’re expecting a big turn-out.
“We think the event will give the city centre economy a real boost on Sunday, bringing in lots of families for a fun-packed day-out and leaving a lasting feelgood impression on visitors from further afield.
“Experience elsewhere suggests it will be great for the city centre and it is likely to become an annual event if all goes well.”
The Super Soapbox Challenge will raise money for two charities, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Bradford Lions and teams will also be using it to raise funds for their own favourite causes.
Mr Pearson said: “We’re really grateful to the fantastic sponsors – both national and local – who have signed up to help us get this event on track.
“They include telecoms company Vodafone, who are sponsoring the stage and the finish line, and Bradford-based hygiene chemical and engineering specialist Christeyns UK, who will be sponsoring the race start. We also have great support from The Broadway shopping centre – and the Kirkgate Centre and Napoleons Casino and Restaurant will be sponsoring winners’ cups.”
The Yorkshire Air Ambulance will be bringing its helicopter simulator trailer to the event. The hi-tech vehicle was specially designed and built to allow their fundraising teams to bring a state-of-the-art educational experience out on the road and into communities throughout Yorkshire.
The Bradford Lions are raising money to help save lives in the local community by buying and providing defibrillators that give a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest.
Vodafone are expected to have their promotional ‘Gigavan’ on-site with an adjacent ‘chill-out’ area and Vodaphone’s brand ambassadors will be circulating handing out freebies to the crowds.
BBC Radio Leeds have entered a team with a cart currently being built by Ginetta Cars and will be broadcasting live from the event.