For years in London there was an annual Go Kart Race (or ‘Box Cart Derby’ for the veteran kart drivers amongst us). For one reason or another this fantastic tradition stopped happening. This year London Play decided enough was enough, and that the time had come to breathe life back into this great event.
So last month, on 23 June 2012, Go Kart designers, builders, decorators, racers, spectators, enthusiasts and passersby made their way to Highbury Fields Racing Track to create their flying machines. And create they did! London Play provided all of the materials, tools and expert guidance you might need to build karts fit to race against the cream of the London Go Kart scene.
Eight teams of children and young people (led by a mixture of able and unable, yet always vigilant adults) set to work at 11am. The start was slow, with a lot of head-scratching and discussion about the how and the what. But before long they were off and what was a plain piece of grass soon became a hive of building and decorating activity.
As you can imagine, this was an unusual scene for your average Londoner, and it was certainly generating some interest from people walking through. Not only did these people think it was a great idea, and enjoyed the spectacle, but they wanted to join in too. This led to a random group of children and adults forming organically to build a kart! It really was great to see the young people so engaged, using tools from saws to power drills responsibly and skilfully, and problem solving…and all whilst having great fun too!
One point that I fail to mention is that there were two more teams building karts on Saturday – namely London Play and Play England. Upon hearing about the event I couldn’t resist laying down the gauntlet and challenging London Play to a kart-off when the kids had finished having their fun (after all its all about the kids right). So, with an elite team in place (Mick Conway, Steve Chown, Hamdi Khalif, Sue Coates and Cath Prisk) we set about creating what became named by Adrian Voce’s children ‘The Play Machine’ (check out the photo set on flickr).
Anyway, soon, the four hours building time was up and it was time to race. The teams lined up on the field in their lanes, and they were off! Three times up and down the course they went at breakneck speeds. What a sight it was. A variety of different designs, systems and paint jobs, all successfully made and raced by children and young people, and without one single accident report form.
The winners were crowned, the teams shown recognition for their hard work and creativity, and the tidy up began. And then it was time for the grudge match…(please watch the whole video, but if you want to go straight to the race its at 3.12)
…and victory for the Play England Team (and even a dramatic crash to wow the crowd)!
Well done to all of the entrants and to everyone at London Play for providing such a brilliant opportunity to Love Outdoor Play. In the words of Mick Conway ‘one of my best days ever at Play England’. Same again next year?