Billycart Grand Prix


For longer than there had been motor cars, there had been billy carts, some even drawn by billy goats (hence the name).  In the UK and the USA these were also called soap-box carts.  However, the need for speed begins in childhood, and unofficial races down hills were soon the norm in all communities.

Today, that need for speed is still there, and so are the gravity powered billy carts.  In the UK, soap box derbies are still popular, such as the Red Bull race, held at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. (Is there anything that Red Bull doesn’t sponsor?)

This extends even to the Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand.  During the Hmong New Year celebrations, “race” carts fashioned from the wooden carts used for hauling produce are entered, where Hmong boys and men will race against members of the Lisu, Engor, and Muser hilltribes.  These races were sponsored by the Royal Project Foundation, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and also the Red Bull brand energy drink.  (There really isn’t anywhere without Red Bull, is there?)

But what about children who lived in areas without hills?  Enterprising fathers began by putting car starter motors on the wooden carts, along with a car battery.  The electric powered cart was born, which amongst other things, gave birth to the go-kart (and the golf cart).

And of course, go-karts are where we once found Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and most of the other F1 drivers of today, some of which are sponsored by Red Bull, so we’re back to where we started.