Car Free Day
Triangle Tornadoes blow competition away
07 Aug 2017 I London Play
A team from Lambeth’s Triangle Adventure Playground blew the field away in their gold-wheeled pared back self-made go kart to win the All London Go Kart Build and Race.
Formula One junkies looking for an adrenaline rush between fixtures were not disappointed at London Play’s Go Kart Build and Race event – now in its fifth year. Teams of children from across London raced first against the clock to build go karts from scratch – and then against one another – under the appraising eye of Leonora Surtees, daughter of the late motorsport legend, John Surtees OBE.
The Tornadoes faced down tough competition from Merton’s Acacia Adventure Playground team in the final; while Hackney’s Homerton Adventure Playground team came in third.
Tornadoes driver Adetayo, 11, said: “It feels good to win. But we did it as a team.” Chuddy, 15 added: “It feels great. But I was worried at the start when I saw that some of the other teams had three pushers!”
The Acacia kart featured a high, wide spoiler that left ample room for three pushers. Dolan, 10 said: “Everyone has been working as a team and we’ve taken our time to get it right.”
Two teams of children with special needs, from Contact a Family Southwark put in strong performances in their heats but more importantly got to experience the satisfaction of making their own go karts and the thrill of putting them into action on the track. Zoe, 9 said: “I’ve helped drill. I’ve never drilled before. It was exciting and I was nervous too.” Her team mate Joy, 11 said: “Making the go kart was the best thing!”
The winning Tornadoes team will get to experience some serious horse power at Kent’s Buckmore Park Kart Circuit (where where Formula One stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button started out) thanks to the Henry Surtees Foundation, which sponsored the event and donated the winning prize for the third year running.
Leonora Surtees attended for the first time, standing in the shoes of her late father, the motor racing legend John Surtees OBE. She was delighted to see the budding engineers and designers at work, some of whom had never handled a drill or banged in a nail prior to the event.
She said: “My father spoke passionately about this event. It’s great to see kids from lots of different backgrounds getting involved and having fun; and also thinking that perhaps it might inspire them to do something productive in future, be it in motorsport, carpentry or another discipline.”
Around 100 children and young people descended on the field at 11am that morning to find piles of wood, wheels, tools and fixings awaiting them alongside flocks of expectant ducks and geese. There were some doubters – but as the minutes and hours ticked by, they found themselves hammering, sawing, drilling and painting; some unearthing hitherto latent talents in aerodynamic design, precision engineering and automotive aesthetics. And when the whistle blew to mark the end of four hours’ furious construction, all 12 karts were deemed fit to race and some were beautiful too.
A few practice runs to hone driving, steering and pushing techniques led straight into three heats, each with four karts – featuring some fierce competition, tactical manoeuvres, and total wipe outs – but huge grins all round. One team which had ‘cleverly’ decided to omit a steering mechanism on the basis that it was a straight course and no steering was needed went veering completely off track, much to the amusement of the crowd. But in the end it was adventure playground groups taking the top three spots: Lambeth’s Triangle first, Merton’s Acacia second and Homerton in third place. Acacia got the prize for best teamwork; Homerton won the ‘best dressed kart’ category with its bright yellow and red polka dot creation; and Camden’s Three Acres play group was awarded ‘best engineered kart’. The team of eight Triangle Tornadoes were handed the coveted ‘H’ trophy and celebrated by spraying sparkling grape juice from the winners’ podium.
“Thanks to the Henry Surtees Foundation for again supporting this fantastic event – and well done to all who took part," said London Play’s deputy director Fiona Sutherland. "It is amazing to see the transformation that takes place in the children over the course of a few short hours. They arrive to see a pile of wood and bits and some of them can’t imagine how it could be anything different. But by the end of the day, they have created a moving, working machine. They leave inspired, with improved confidence, self-belief and hope. They take away new skills in teamwork, negotiation, planning, design, engineering, handling tools safely and assessing risk. They learn so much. But they have had so much fun that they don’t even realise it!
“These are the sort of experiences children can have – for free – every day at London’s unique and wonderful adventure playgrounds, where many of the teams taking part in this event have come from. They are located in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the capital where children are unlikely to get these opportunities elsewhere. Unfortunately, ‘austerity’ is seeing many of them being closed down in a short-sighted attempt to save money – while children pay the price in lost opportunities.”
Corporate volunteers from businesses located at nearby Canary Wharf, helped the day run smoothly and had a brilliant time in the process. Cass Business School, JLL and Knight Frank all supported the event.
Charlotte Malone, Director at JLL Canary Wharf, commented: “We are pleased to continue to support the London Play Go-Kart event. The work that it does to tackle the exclusion of children from some activities due to financial circumstances is so important, giving them the much needed opportunity to get involved in something which they wouldn’t normally be able to. We had a great time seeing the children getting stuck in!”
Kyla, from Cass Business School said: “It was a fantastic day. So lovely to watch the kids work together and then race their karts. Well done to all the teams – I’m pleased I got to volunteer.”