On My Soapbox with Cregor Elliott
I got a notification from Micks Garage one day saying they were running a Soapbox Derby, and like everything that comes in I thought to myself I could do that. Most of those dreams soon subside when I realize the logistics/effort involved but this one stuck with me. A few weeks later during conversation with fleet manager Leo he said that he owned a boxcar that I could race for the weekend if I wanted, I jumped at the chance. After a few rums I came up with the name Ronnie Beck Allstars after the 3
time soapbox derby champion and was convinced that I was onto a winner. I thought that the car would fit into the back of the Saxo but when Paul Heavey arrived with it one Saturday morning and I saw the size of it a new plan was needed so I drafted in the Leastone boys who are always up for a bit of fun. Paul, Kevin, Keno, and Brendan came on board. Scilachi joined the team as media director, and downhill bike racing champion Tony Marshall also signed up. The boxcar was painted green with white favlon forming a stripe down the centre and on the sidepods. I decided to take the white off revealing the name Hotlips underneath and then decided the green had to go too.
The Rabbitts had raced the car before me and had painted it with green emulsion; there was even a handprint in it which could have belonged to any of those lads bar Liam. I started to sand down the body but after a few days realized I was out of my depth. Brendan offered to paint the car for me so it was transported to the Global Service Centre where the lads bid a brilliant job of smoothing out some of the imperfections and coating her a lovely orange. A few custom stickers and GoPro mounts and we were good to go. Race day was dry and sunny when we arrived at the Shanks Mare pub in Meath. Excellent breakfast rolls and coffee were available to warm us up and raise the spirts. We got the car through scrutiny and checked out some of the opposition. There were plenty of good looking cars in the paddock with some serious work put into them. The track was being set up so we went to check it out. I’d been told the hill was massive, and the jump huge but I have to say I was expecting bigger, and could see the lack of gradient was going to be a problem due to the weight of Hotlips. When one races downhill mountain bikes only the Alps are massive. Mary Heavey had sent me a Jason Plato endorsed energy drink that I tasted before the heats but decided to keep most of it for the knockout stages. On the way to the start line I passed a lad checking his Ebay on the phone. I knocked the phone clean out of his hand for reasons that still can’t be explained to this day. Hotlips ran well down the track but wasn’t that fast. We made a few technique changes over the jump to stop the nose diving on landing to try and carry more speed further down the track. We were outside the top ten but importantly ahead the Noddy team of Johnny Jomo who was the only other pure Mondello crew. The final timed run saw some improvements but a technical glitch near the bottom of the track meant the time hadn’t been improved but I managed to keep Noddy at bay winning a euro for the boss in a bet. Lunch was served in the pub and lovely burgers were served, not as good as a Patch burger but up there all the same. Mine was washed down with more Plato juice. An impromptu tactics meeting with the Allstars decided on our strategy for the afternoon. If victory was to be ours some knavery would be called for, and fellow racers had to be kept behind at all costs. The first head to head was with the trike. A good start and Hotlips had her nose in front. Once that happened I started to close the gap at the front; we were both leaning on each other and as the squeeze continued down the track the trike disappeared. We’d hardly gone 100 meters and victory was mine. I saluted the crowd with some showboating as I rolled down to take the flag. The trike rider was gracious in defeat and we had a good laugh about it down the bottom while waiting for a tow back from the bunny driving the quad. Back at the top
we slapped high fives and revelled in our awesomeness. It looked as though we were up against Noddy next and wagers were struck on the outcome. It wasn’t to be though, as we rolled up to the startline there was Johnboy lined up to race. He’d been taunting me on Facebook in the run up to the event with comments like ‘Rubbing is racing’ and the like, we were about to find out was it. The Allstars got me away quickly again and I tried to close the gap to the left. Johnboy was leaning on me though and trying to squeeze himself through the gap. I leaned back and as the front of the cars drew level leaned some more. Johnboy was into the haybales and we were both stuck. The driver took a hissy fit. I wanted to shout at him ‘paint my fence’ but I couldn’t stop laughing. Marshals freed us up and I was away first. Not realising the crews had run down from the top to get us going again I was moving. A couple of lads tried to jump on my car to slow me down how she was well waxed and they slipped off without affecting my velocity. Thinking victory was in the bag I made the error of never looking behind me and was stunned to see Johnboy flying past me. Looking back it was probably for the best as the hay bales didn’t extend to that part of the track and those barriers would have made shite of his boxcar. Ronnie Beck was destined to remain as only a three times soapbox champion. I was expecting a bit of banter down the bottom but it wasn’t forthcoming as Johnboy blanked me. I’ve net some bad losers ion my time but bad winners are a rarity. Back at the top Hotlips was abandoned as we watched the rest of the racing. A young lad approached me and asked for an autograph telling me he was shouting for me all day and that I was rapid. I’d a quick scan expecting a candid camera type incident but the lad was genuine. I asked did he want a selfie for his facebook but he said he wasn’t allowed a phone until he was 7. I signed the paper and sent the scamp on his way. Racing over and we headed to the
prizegiving. The wrecker that transported Hotlips was clamped in the carpark and requesting a cheaters release fee. The trike lads had put it on, we all posed for photos with the clamp and they showed me their video of the race. I’d stuck the lad on his head, we were all impressed. There was a surprise at the prizegiving when after all the racing awards had been given out I was awarded a prize as driver of the day: the trophy was the wheel clamp which now has pride of place on the wall of my garage. The day was fantastic and one of the most enjoyable days of the year. Micks Garage did a brilliant job putting on the event and thanks to their crew for their massive efforts. Big shoutout also to Leo for the boxcar, and the other Allstars for their epic effort. There were smiling faces everywhere and it raised some funds for the Jack and Jill Foundation. I can see us going back to defend our title next year.
Cregor (and the Ronnie Beck Allstars)