Soapbox action in Sunderland sees racers out to clean up the competition

It was a case of the wacky races in Sunderland this Saturday as crowds turned out for The North East Soapbox Challenge.

Organisers of the quirky family day at Herrington Country Park were expecting around 15,000 spectators at what they billed as the region’s largest free event.

And families flocked to watch as the action got under way with between 50 and 70 soap boxes competing during the day’s racing.

First there was the chance to see the makeshift vehicles up close once the park opened at 9.30am and, with many of the soapbox designs inspired by film and TV, they proved a colourful sight.

Ahead of the start of the races around 10am, arriving spectators also had a chance to check out the rest of the attractions, ranging from a funfair to a street food market.

There were some well-known faces among them, with TV’s The Property Boyz – Andrew Dyke and Alan Lee Ogden: best known for C4’s Britain’s Benefit Tenants – on the judging panel.

Spectators could view the soapbox action from the track-side of the 400-metre course or at one of the big screens during the event which was due to run until 7pm with the park remaining open until 8pm.

The fun sport has been growing in popularity thanks to competitions such as the Red Bull Soapbox Race and events director Martin Tulip said: “We wanted to bring something new to the region.

“We’ve all seen soapbox races on the TV and we knew, with the North East’s history of engineering and building, we could get some brilliant car designs and that – in the setting of the stunning Herrington Country Park – makes for a perfect family day out.”

Also on offer during the day was a children’s zone, a craft market and live music plus beer tents and gin bars.

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