Is It Time to Ban Jumps at Soapbox Races?

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 An airborne racer at Billericay Soapbox Race 2018
 An airborne racer at Billericay Soapbox Race 2018

A competitor has suffered a fractured vertebrae at the Billericay Soapbox Derby this weekend as a result of landing heavily from a ramp on the course.


 "A VOLUNTEER who fractured his back during a soap box derby is hoping others can support him while he is signed off from work.

Billericay Round Table member, Jim Wroe, suffered a fractured vertebrae after a crash at the Billericay Soapbox Derby on Bank Holiday Monday.

Jim will now be in a full body brace for up to two months, and is unable to work – but fortunately there are no signs of permanent nerve damage. The dedicated volunteer works supporting vulnerable young people, but as a result will not receive sick pay, leading to concerns how he will pay his bills and mortgage in the interim.

The accident happened after Jim was racing in the round table’s Round Table Trojan Rabbit, and he landed heavily following a jump."

Basildon, South End, Canvey Echo 21st May


This comes after Formula Gravity made clear the dangers of using jumps at soapbox races in their August 2017 Newsletter, highlighting the fact that "most gravity racers are designed to race on a flat, fast surface at speed" and do not have the suspension and driver support necessary to cope with landing a racer with a combined weight of somewhere around 200Kg.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, in the pursuit of a "thrills and spills" to entertain the crowd, the "spectacular crash" is a deliberately played for result for some events. It would be interesting to see how these events discharge their duty to consider all risks and hazards, and to document the measures taken to remove or reduce them to an acceptable level, while at the same time deliberately adding an element to the course which has the potential to cause a loss of control and serious injury.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for race organisers to get third party liability cover, with insurers understandably becoming wary of gravity racing and requiring ever more controls and evidence of competence. In the interests of the future of soapbox racing in the UK, is it now time to stop putting ramps on soapbox race tracks?

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