Review of 'Red Bull Soapbox Race London 2019'

logo.jpg https://soapboxrace.redbull.com/uk/en/

We have always been big fans of the Red Bull Soapbox races we have seen on television. The sheen lunacy of the spectacle has always been appreciated as amateurs in the races around the world attempt to build and race soapbox vehicles (wheeled carts with no engine) down steep courses with various hazards along the way simply striving to make it to the finish line. When we heard it was coming to it's “spiritual home” at London's Alexandra Palace we could not pass it up. For those unaware, Alexandra Palace is in the north of the city on the top of a rather high hill with a steep road leading up to it which, of course, is perfect for this race.

Start

General admission tickets for the race cost £23.50 each (adult) with 25,000 people in attendance lining the 420 metre course. The gates opened at 10:30 am with racing underway at about noon until just after 4 pm with one group being sent down with a short break followed by the next group. With 64 entrants the process was very efficient with each team given a time limit of 30 seconds at the start line to do an initial performance which is scored by a team of four judges (on the day with one particular judge having wildly different scores from his colleagues) before getting as quick as they can down the course. Team performance, race time and design creativity are all used to determine the final score. The theme of the track obstacles this year was the seasons with the “bone rattler” strewn with leaves and the final “kicker” continually subjected to falling (artificial!) snow.

Finish

With the number of people it was impossible to find a position along the edge of the track despite arriving only a few minutes after the gates opened (tickets were scanned at the gates but our gate had several ticket scanners that were not working so each person had to be manually looked up on the device). We ended up seated on the steep embankment that lined the north side of the course looking down on the track, just above the first obstacle which was a water jump (a basin of water with a lip at the end) which, of course, splashed anyone within 20 feet when a soapbox went through it. It was fairly comfortable seating and we had clear sight of the start line and the judges. There were big screens lining the course as it was impossible to find a position anywhere with a few of the complete track (!). The crowd lining the track made it difficult to see much of the soapboxes as they went by so the screens often came in quite handy. The weather was initially overcast but towards the end of the afternoon the sun broke out and it was considerably warmer.

On site there were a good number of places to eat with the main group of street food vendors at the top of the hill outside the east entrance to Alexandra Palace. We were allowed to bring in food and drink (within reason!) but, supposedly, no chairs (though we saw several with them).

The racing itself was very good with a generally high quality of builds from most teams with several requisite spectacular crashes including a top-heavy soapbox in the shape of a plane that did a nose-dive directly in front of us when it hit the water trap. To be honest we saw more when we watched the footage screened later the same day on the television channel “Dave” but simply being there had an amazing buzz…

At the end of the race after the winners received their trophy the crowd cleared and we were surprised to stumble across the race finish paddock where what remained (!) of the soapboxes were being held. This was as close as we had ever been to the machines and it was interesting to see the amount of detail and care that had gone into their creation.

A lot of fun but unless you are able to get into the site immediately when the gates open to grab a standing spot at one of the metal railings lining the track (behind several layers of hay bales) do not expect to be able to directly see too much of the actual racing itself though it was easy enough to find positions with clear views of the start. A bit expensive but worth it for a full day of entertainment.


Short, basic video from our experience…

Rating:

Review Date: 2019-07-07



Alexandra Palace

Location: London (England)

Address: Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7AY

Public Transport: NRLOGO Alexandra Palace TUBE Wood Green

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8365 2121

URL: http://www.alexandrapalace.com/

Alexandra Palace is hard to miss - Just look for the glass palace on the top of the hill in the north side of London. This is also home of a television antenna that broadcast the first television signals (and also featured in a Doctor Who episode!).

It is home to a lot of regular events including fireworks, food festivals, antique shows and a permanent indoor ice rink. It is difficult to get to as the nearest tube station is about a 25 minute walk away and the last bit, of course, all up hill. Great views of London from the top though…The grounds are well tended with flowers throughout.