Organisers predict the day of “family fun, racing, wacky costumes and carts, not to mention a few thrills and spills” on September 18 will attract thosuands of visitors to the town’s main street.
In a first for the town Berry Lane will be transformed into an unusual race track with chicanes, jumps, water features and more to challenge riders of specially created motorless wooden vehicles built to resemble novel racing cars .
The 30 or so teams taking part will be helping to raised vital funds for local charity and event organiser Longridge Community Action. The charity is running the event with the assistance of the not for profit Love Longridge Business Group.
Business Group spokesman Alistair Sheret said: “The plan is to close Berry Lane for the day to allow the carts to use the natural slope to generate some speed. A good number of the businesses will open on the day and it’s a chance for residents and visitors to come out and experience all the town has to offer.”
He stressed the focus at the free event will be on fun costumes for drivers and novelty decorated vehicles.
Raymond James Investment Services (RJIS) of Berry Lane is the main sponsor. Its Longridge branch principal Wayne Hayhurst said: "If our involvement helps light the fire for other businesses and individuals to be involved that would be tremendous. The Soap Box Derby gives Longridge the opportunity to say to its residents and visitors, old and new, it’s not just a great place to live but has a real sense of community and purpose."
He continued: “There are wonderful, independent retailers, bars, restaurants and professional services companies, all providing first class customer service. If this event introduces some new customers to those businesses then we can deem the day to be a success. Longridge is not a closed community, we’re welcoming to new residents, visitors and businesses. Just come and see what we have to offer, not just on race day but in the days and weeks that follow.”
Organisers have promised plenty of viewing spots to see the racing and spectators will be able to buy refreshments or bring a picnic. There will also be two large areas with screens for those not at the side of the racetrack. Prizes will be awarded for ‘fastest winner’, ‘best dressed’, ‘most innovative design’ and other categories and local community radio station Ribble FM will provide a live commentary and broadcast from the event.
A spokesperson for Longridge Community Action said: “The event helps us to build improved social contact within our town and the funds raised can be used immediately to make demonstrable improvements to the lives of people living in Longridge.”
Longridge has previously put itself on the visitor map with another promotional event, its Create Longridge painting contest, which sees artists setting up their easels in and around the Ribble Valley town and creating a picture in a day, competing for major cash prizes.
To find out more about the Soap Box Derby and how to enter see www.longridgesoapboxderby.co.uk
* Soap Box Derby youth soap box car racing events have been held in the United States since the 1930s.