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Weird and wonderful soap box 'machines' tear down Drews Ave

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Weird and wonderful soap box 'machines' tear down Drews Ave

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Jacob McSweeny

2 mins to read

A dog in shining armour makes its way down Drews Ave. Photo / Jacob McSweeny

For Denny Maguire, from Garmac Engineering, this will be the one and only time he will go speeding down Drews Ave in a homemade kart while dressed as a panda.

“Because I’ve only just been hired there … I’ve got to wear the panda suit this year.

“This will be my only year … the other new guy will be next year.”

It was, of course, the Plumber Dan Soap Box Derby, on the final day of Whanganui Vintage Weekend 2023.

Image 1 of 8: A rural fire soap box kart takes a turn. Photo / Jacob McSweeny

There were about 50 to 60 entrants to the derby this year, and racers started atop Pukenamu Queen’s Park and descended, sometimes via ramps, to the bottom of Drews Ave.

There was a rural fire brigade kart, a dog in shining armour and a bathtub on wheels, to name a few. Some flew down at high speeds, while others appeared to have stuck the brakes on or required regular help as they meandered down the hill.

Maguire said the descent was not as fast as he thought it would be.

“Not bad. Hopefully, on the next couple of runs, I can get right up on that death wall and get some more speed.”

But it was coming around the bend and turning after the finish where Maguire came a cropper.

“I just tried to give it a bit of a drift, and she really did just topple over on me. Now I know its limits.

“No injuries, just a big smile.”

Crowds of people leaned over the barriers along Drews Ave to see the karts go by. There were two ramps along the track, and racers varied on whether they chose to do the ramp or not.

Plumber Dan owner Daniel Goldsworthy said it was the second time the event had been run.

There were a series of awards for things like fastest kart, best-dressed, best crash and worst driver. At the end, there was a king-of-the-hill race.

“There’s some pretty good ones,” Goldsworthy said after seeing a run-through of all the racers.

“A lot of people have put awesome effort into making some awesome machines.”

He said the event was all about community and getting the family together.

“Family fun. It gets family together to build the machines; takes the whole family to get them down the hill.”

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