After months of preparation, a Big Lottery Fund award and the dedication of several Inclined Explorers and their parents, Colonel Mustard made it out of the dining room and with a couple of spanners, successfully competed at the Shenington 24 hour race in June and the Curborough Sprints in September. These are just two of the British Pedal Car Championship Races.
About 18 months ago, like most other Units in the Midlands, we received an invitation and details about the world of pedal car racing from Jes Featherstone, an Explorer leader from Rugby. (Incidentally Jes’ team Apollo Racing have just won the 2010 Championships.) We went to visit the 24 hour Shenington race last year and set a plan to be there this year. Pedal car racing is very much a scout activity but it reaches wider than that. The British Federation of Pedal Car Racing sets out specifications for the cars and races to make sure they are built and run to strict safety rules.
The Inclined explorers began with a scrap heap challenge, taking apart old bikes and a mobility scooter and then persuaded several local tradesmen and businesses to supply other parts and fix them together. Some bits had to be bought especially and that’s where the Lottery Grant came to the rescue. It was Fraser Dobney, an explorer parent with a keen interest in bikes who has been our project manager and we used his dining room!
Some of the explorers have used the building of the car as the Skill element of their Duke of Edinburgh/Chief Scouts Awards. For others the hours of pedalling practice and the racing has been a great way to complete the Physical elements.
Many of the pedal car teams have been racing for years but they are very keen to share their passion and experience. A vital aspect is to have a car that lasts the race. For the 24 hour race, where the Colonel was pedalled 351 miles by just 6 explorers, we wore out a completed set of tyres and fortunately avoided punctures and collisions, although one of our pedals kept falling off. So far the Colonel has been very reliable and indestructible. We know he’s not the fastest car on the grid, so the winter will give us plenty of time to complete modifications: a wider range of gears and maybe adding a differential.
As we sat at Curborough on Saturday night reflecting on our achievements for this year we were dreaming of a whole fleet of pedal cars: Miss Scarlet, Rev Green, Professor Plum… Or maybe that’s where you come in? If you would like more details of how we did it or would like to get involved, take a look at www.pedalcars.info or email firstname.lastname@example.org