With the National Soapbox Rules currently under discussion on the UKGSA forum, I've decided to update the Rules discussions in the Event Organisers section. There are some of my thoughts on what is needed in a good set of rules, and also some links to the rules used by various events around the country.
It's interesting to note that, now more teams are travelling to different events and event organisers are starting to talk to each other and share ideas, all the different rules are starting to converge and a standard set is emerging. Whether this is consensus breaking out or just blatant plagiarism of the best bits is hard to tell, but if it makes it easier to build a cartie that can compete in several races then it's got to be a good thing.
If you have any questions or comments on the rules pages, or indeed any other part of the site, then please do leave some feedback in the form at the bottom of each page. We've already had some really usefull discussions about wheels over in the construction pages, and it'd be great to get more substance in the event organisation pages too.
There have been a set of National Soapbox Rules around for a few years now, and some events have adopted them as a separate class which they run alongside their own "local class" carties. However, the National Rules are very restrictive, which may explain why there are still only a handful of carties built to the National spec' and the mooted "National Championships" has largely failed to get off the ground.
In an attempt to open up the National competition a bit, a discussion has been started over on the UKGSA's forum. I'm optimistic that something constructive will come of it and that we might have a meaningful National Championship Series next year. See the discussion for futher details.
Competition rules control how the event is actually run and how you decide who the winners are. It is usual to have several prizes, with some being awarded for the fastest time and others for more subjective achievements such as "Best turned out", "Spirit of the event", etc.
Prizes might include;
- Fastest time of the day
- Fastest aggregate time
- Fastest lady
- Fastest Junior
- Best turned out
- BEst engineered
- Best dressed team
- Champagne moment
- Spirit of the event
For liability reasons it is probably best to avoid having prizes for "Best crash", etc, since it would be difficult to argue that you are taking safety seriously while at the same time appearing to encourage people to crash.
For safety reasons, and also for reasons of space and the width of the track, soapbox cartie races often take the form of time trials, where each cartie has one or more timed runs down the course. However, if you have the room then head to head racing is undeniably more exciting.
Competition rules also determine what the age limits are, what tactics are allowed and what would be considered "cheating" - e.g. push starts, ballast, etc.
Brake Testing at Catterline.
Construction rules govern the way the soapbox carties are built, and typically cover things such as the maximum length, width, weight, etc, plus any requirements for brakes and steering etc. The main objective of the rules is to promote and enforce safe designs, but also might be used to prevent designs that might give an unfair advantage.
Construction rules are difficult to get right. If they are too strict then you run the risk of making it too hard for teams to build a cart, but if you make it too lax then there is a danger that the carties will be put the drivers and spectators at risk.
It is strongly recommended that you pay particular attention to the brakes and the steering and ensure that every team demonstrates that their cartie can be steered and stopped effectively. It is normal to have a formal safety inspection or "scrutineering" before racing begins to ensure all carts conform to a minimum standard as far as afety is concerned. The inspection of often carried out a week or two before the race in order to give teams a chance to fix any problems.
Having the scrutineering beforehand also makes the teams have their cartie ready in good time and helps to avoid them "lashing it together the night before".