Students build soapboxes for summer extravaganza

Once finished, it will be up businesses and organisations to decorate and then race their creations down Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells for the 2019 Crazy Jean’s Soapbox Race on June 8. 

Up to 10,000 spectators are expected to watch the time trial race, with the event also including a zip wire and supercar display.

Following a successful partnership in 2018, where an all-student team aged 16 to 18 years from West Kent College built the framework for all competing soapboxes, West Kent College and Crazy Jean’s Events are teaming up once again for round two.

Under the supervision of college lecturers, a select group of students has been designing and building the soapbox framework from the ground up.

Using materials provided by Crazy Jean’s events, the basic structure will include chassis, steering wheels, brakes and tires, which is then delivered to participating racers for decoration.

Gary Crowhurst, lecturer at West Kent College, says he is continuing the relationship with Crazy Jean’s Soapbox Race due to the practical experience it provides in a local and fun environment.

He says: “As a local college, it’s important to reach out to the community and involve ourselves. This has many benefits, but the advantages it offers our students are at the forefront. Blending the boundaries between academia and practical experiences in the real world results in a well-rounded and vibrant education at the college.

“An event such as the Soapbox Race is a unique opportunity to build something from scratch. To create something from nothing, as opposed to performing repairs to mechanisms already in place, is an invaluable experience for our motorsports students.”

The one-day festival, held in Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells on June 8, will see over 50 soapboxes, driven by representatives from local businesses and organisations, make their way down the whacky track in aid of local charities Hospice in the Weald and Taylor-Made Dreams.

Nicole Piesse Turner, who launched Crazy Jean’s Events with Garry Jeffery in 2018, said: “One of the many wonderful things about our collaboration with West Kent College is that it demonstrates the unique ways in which local businesses and organisations can be involved in this event.

“Knowing that the Soapbox Race can have such a positive impact on the education of these students is extremely rewarding, and one of the many reasons that we knew the event would not be a one-hit wonder.”

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