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Thousands descend on Alexandra Palace to witness return of Red Bull Soapbox Race

The Knight Bus soapbox in action (Eleanor Fleming/PA)
The Knight Bus soapbox in action (Eleanor Fleming/PA)

Thousands of spectators descended on Alexandra Palace in London to witness the return of Red Bull’s Soapbox Race.

The race – which happened on Saturday – challenges teams to prototype and create the wackiest homemade soapboxes, which rely solely on gravity to navigate a downhill course.

From Belly of the Whale’s Harry Potter-inspired “Knight Bus” to Fast and Furniture’s sideways Simpson’s sofa, spectators were thoroughly entertained as 59 teams hurtled down the 420-metre course.

The Hurry Houdinis celebrate with their trophy on a podium emblazoned with Red Bull logos
The Hurry Houdinis were declared the winners (Mark Roe/Red Bull Content Pool/PA)

Entrants came from all over the UK, including Northern Ireland, Glasgow and Newcastle, but only three could make the podium – The Hurry Houdinis, Hoveraid and Every Can Counts.

The Hurry Houdinis, from London, were crowned this year’s winners and said “a lifetime of preparation” had gone into the race, adding they “will be back to defend the title”.

They said: “We can’t believe we have actually won.

“When we arrived and saw all the other carts, we thought we would have been lucky to get in the top one or two.

“It has been a mental couple of days. The wheel hubs arrived on Friday, so it was really down to the wire if we could go or not.

“It felt electric to win.”

Every Can Counts soapbox team holding their trophy, including a man dressed in an outfit made out of drinks cans
Every Can Counts soapbox team (from left to right) Paul Bacon, Chris Latham-Warde, Tom Giddings, Phoebe Kelly, Lee Cox (Eleanor Fleming/PA)

The Every Can Counts team, who designed a “recycling truck” soapbox called “Chitty Chitty Can Can”, said they were “ecstatic” with a third-placed finish, having placed 27th last time.

Tom Giddings, 35, Chris Latham-Warde, 33, Paul Bacon, 51, Lee Cox, 58, and Phoebe Kelly, 25, hoped to raise awareness of recycling with their vehicle while showcasing a “special move” – a “wheelie”.

They joked that their soapbox ended up reaching speeds of “just under 1,000 miles an hour”, creating a “sonic boom” on the course – and they described their result as “awesome”.

Mr Latham-Warde, the driver, told the PA news agency after the race: “The drive was surprisingly smooth.

The Llama-Drama soapbox team dressed in a variety of fancy dress outfits pose for the camera before the race
The Llama-Drama soapbox team before the race (Eleanor Fleming/PA)

“I was very nervous going into it because I didn’t know what was going to happen, but once we cleared that first jump, we knew we would make it down to the end.

“It was an amazing experience and we’re all about the message as well – we’re trying to get people to recycle – so to come third is just a cherry on the cake.”

The team have already discussed plans for the next race, with co-driver Mr Giddings, who donned a vibrant suit crafted using aluminium cans, adding: “We came third, there are only two places to go. We’re after first.”

Red Bull has held more than 100 soapbox races around the world since the original in Brussels in 2000.

The Swifty Air soapbox in mid air after jumping over a ramp during its run on the course
The Swifty Air soapbox about to tumble (Eleanor Fleming/PA)

The UK last hosted the event in 2022, when 20,000 spectators were treated to some of the wildest soapbox designs, inspired by the likes of Colin the Caterpillar, James Bond and Top Gun.

This year, soapbox designs were inspired by racing video game series Mario Kart, singer Taylor Swift, TV drama Peaky Blinders, Harry Potter and The Simpsons – to name a few.

Participants were judged on creativity, speed and showmanship, with each team taking on four notable features of the Red Bull Soapbox Race track, including: The AA Water Jump, The Wedge, The Bone Rattler, and The Kicker, as well as a special foam cannon feature from event partner, Unibond No More Nails.

While there was success for many, some teams did not make it to the finish line in their vehicles – with soapboxes including Swifty Air, inspired by Taylor Swift, tumbling into the haybales.

For more information on this year’s entries and highlights from the event, visit: redbull.com/gb-en/events/red-bull-soapbox-race-london.