event organisation

Race Organisers: What is your biggest headache?

Getting Event Insurance
60% (6 votes)
Safety Plan / Risk Assessment
0% (0 votes)
Race Timing
0% (0 votes)
Course Barriers
0% (0 votes)
Finding Marshals & Event Helpers
20% (2 votes)
Competitor Safety Checks
0% (0 votes)
Getting Entries
0% (0 votes)
Permissions for Road Closure
20% (2 votes)
Other (please comment below)
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 10
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Course Protection

There are several objectives for course protection and safety barriers, including;

  1. To keep the carties from coming into contact with the spectators.
  2. To protect the carties and drivers from trackside hazards such as sign posts, kerbs, steep drops, etc.
  3. Course delineation.

There are several different barrier types, including;

  • Traffic barriers
Soapbox Race Barriers
Water Filled Barriers in use at Cairngorm Soapbox Extreme 2011

Red & White interlocking water filled traffic barriers are the best form of barrier for course protection. They are light and stackable so can be transported and handled with ease, and when in position they can be made into an effective barrier simply by putting water in them.

When water filled, they have a small amount of "give" so they do not bring the carties to an abrupt stop. Their use was pioneered at Cairngorm Soapbox Extreme in 2011, and since then they have been used at serious soapbox races across the UK.

They can usually be hired at a very reasonable rate from traffic management companies, and some councils may have a stock as well.

  • Small bales

Small bales are the often the instinctive first choice when laying out a cartie course. In small numbers they are relatively easy to handle and can be very effective in some cirmcumstances. However, there are some serious drawbacks too and their use as  primary course protection is not advised.

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Course Construction - Chicanes, etc

Try talking your way out of that one...Chicanes on the course can add a great deal to the event;

  • Extra challenge for the drivers
  • Extra excitement for the competitors 
  • Add interest to an otherwise fairly straight course
  • Force drivers to slow down before any course hazards

If penalties are to be imposed for obstructions hit, it is worth considering an objective measure of whether or not to apply the penalty. For example, if you use traffic cones to make a slalom, a tennis ball on the top of it will indicate if it has been hit.
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Soapbox Race Rules & Regulations

The rules you adopt will go a long way to setting the tone of your event and the type of carties that enter, so before you consider he rules you want to use it's worth spending time thinking about what you are trying to achieve with your event. If you want a fun event that has maximum community involvement, you will probably prefer to have minimal restrictions on the design of the carties and should focus on basic minimal safety requirements as appropriate for the speeds you expect on the day and the nature of the course rahter than getting bogged down with the technicalities of dimensions, roll bars, etc. However, if your race is aimed at serious gravity racers then more stringent standards would be required. 

Standards There are two distinct areas to consider - competition rules and construction rules. Fortunately, there are a lot of rules about already, so you can pick and choose the best ideas to get a set that is right for you. Although there are several sets of rules available that purport to be a "national standard" for cartie construction, there are in fact no accepted standard rules. The variety of different event types make it very difficult to draft a "one size fits all" set of rules since what is appropriate for a 60mph race down a mountain would be ridiculously over the top for a 25mph trundle through a village.

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Soapbox Derby Risk Assessments

Like it or not, it is a fact of life nowadays that organisers are required to pay attention to safety issues related to any event that they are running, and one of the tools that can be used for this is the risk assessment. This can be a worry, but it needn't be.

In fact, a thorough risk assessment is an extremely useful tool which can inform your event plan, course construction and competition rules. It helps you focus on the risks that really matter – the ones with the potential to cause harm to spectators, marshall and competitors. 

Useful links:

The safety plan for the 2012 Cairngorm Soapbox Extreme
The risk assessment prepared for the 2012 Cairngorm Soapbox Extreme
Everything you could possibly want to know about risk assessment, including the "Five Steps to Risk Assessment" guide. 


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