“A while ago my uncle laughed and asked if I didn’t want to participate in the race. We sent in our candidacy and came to the fifty selected,” laughs Jan Betlej (18), who participates together with his uncle Rafael Betlej (42).
‘The Polish Flintstones’, as the team from Deurne calls itself, had to recover from its nomination and only started working on the soap box last week. “We’ve never done anything like this before, but we have a number of construction workers in our family. No lack of material knowledge.”
Participating is more important than winning
Jan and Rafael will be able to use that help, because the duo is brooding on a creative car. “As our name suggests, we want to mimic a kind of Flintstone car (after the animation series with figures from the Stone Age, ed.). That was the first idea that came to our mind. We will also dress up as characters from the series during the ride.”
Whether they will set the fastest time with that prehistoric approach is doubtful. But that can be stolen from Jan and Rafael. “Participating is more important than winning. We are driving in a soap box for the first time, so getting down in one piece is already a great victory”, Jan laughs. “If possible, we want to win the prize for most creative car.”
‘Disco United’, the second Antwerp team formed by employees of advertising agency LDV United, also starts with healthy ambitions. “Ideally we will win the speed prize, but above all we hope that the public will like our soapbox. We also wrote our own song. If spectators hum that after our passage, our day can’t go wrong,” says Jordi Van Geert, who helped build his employer’s soap box.
LDV played an important role in the creation of the Red Bull Soap Box Race. The company participates every edition. This year it is doing so with a special car: “We decorated a large sphere with 20,000 mirrors and placed it on a go-kart. We have been busy for weeks with it, but are satisfied with the end result.”
“We don’t dare to say whether our soapbox will also bounce over the finish line unscathed. Our driver has no experience and does not prepare, but is completely satisfied. The colleagues are much more stressed than he is, which is good”, Jordi laughs.
However, a good preparation seems important on the spectacular course. During the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix, even the most agile drivers drive every lap with trembling knees towards the mythical Raidillon. The incline is a deterrent, but guarantees spectacle. And Sunday will be no different.
Precisely for that reason, Jan and Rafael try to prepare themselves. “Finding a similar slope is going to be difficult, but we’ll hit the street to see if our soapbox holds up. I already drove the bend on the Playstation many times, hopefully that helps. (lava)