SANDTON DRIVE, Johannesburg – After an eight-year hiatus, the Red Bull Box Cart Race recently returned to South African soil. Red Bull South Africa invited CAR magazine to Johannesburg, where we had the chance to go behind the scenes and get a first-hand experience of this quirky race.
As we arrived at Sandton Drive the day preceding the race, most of the 70 competing teams were already stationed at their respective pits. While some teams were still doing a little fine-tuning to their gravity-powered carts, others strategised how best to approach the track, which was designed by South African Dakar legend, Giniel de Villiers.
Still, the track had yet to be officially completed (and the necessary safety measures put in place), with teams having to wait a little longer for their first full look at the 500-metre downhill section.
Walking past the pits, it was impressive how much time and effort many teams had put into their creations. An example of such a team was Veloci-Wrangler, which tested the durability of its box cart’s chassis with a simulation running on the same programme used to measure the impact landings have on jets. A team member even showed us a simulation of the aerodynamics testing of "Red-Rexi", the T-Rex mounted at the rear of the cart.
One of the creations that drew a particularly large amount of attention was Bathtime’s bathtub-inspired cart, complete with a shower head, running water and a numberplate reading "DABATH" (a clever nod to judge De Villiers, who won the Dakar Rally in 2009).
Brasse Vannie Kaap, the only team from Cape Town, likewise drew a large crowd with "Boeta", its minibus-taxi-inspired cart, complete with a vice grip for the steering wheel. Rather fittingly, Grandmaster Ready D, also a judge at the event (and one of the original members of the hip-hop group Brasse Vannie Kaap), wished them luck before their trip down Sandton Drive.
Clocking in a time of 00:46 seconds, Alternate Arc was the fastest team on the day. Team Gusheshe, with a time of just under four minutes, was the slowest, but the team members at least ended their event in a spectacular fashion, carrying their crashed BMW 325 iS cart across the line ... and receiving loud praise from the crowd.
Speed, however, is not the only determining factor in this race. More than anything else, gees is at the centre of this event. Teams were required to showcase their creativity by doing a short 20-second skit before embarking down the track, where they faced five obstacles, including sharp corners, potholes and a Dakar-inspired dirt bend.
The team that won overall was the South African Bobsled Team, with crowd favourite Bathtime claiming silver and Ballbarion’s Dragon finishing third.
We're keeping our fingers crossed this event will return to South Africa soon. In the meantime, be sure to follow CAR on Instagram and view our "Box Cart Race" highlight for more behind-the-scenes footage. You can also watch the day's biggest crashes in the video below...
Author: Marius Boonzaier