Potential soapbox race venues

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I've been looking around on google maps for potential places to go soapbox racing, and have found a few candidates around Loch Earn and Loch Tay. I don't know anything at all about them or what the road surface is like, etc, but they look interesting from the map. Most of them are access roads to reservoirs, so they are dead ends and hence no through traffic. They should have reasonably well maintained surfaces but probably won't be very wide. You can see them all on this google map.

Does anyone know anything about these roads, or is anyone likely to be going anywhere near them soon? Anyone got any other potential venues?


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Potential places

Don't know those roads but there is a good downhill tarred road off the West linton road outside Edinburgh at a place called Flotterstone. The area is now part of the regional Park the road in question running up from Flotterstone to Glencourse resivoir. There is a single farm right up at the top.
Anonymous | October 20, 2009 - 22:05
scottishcarties's picture


Looks interesting, and would be worth checking out - maybe have a look on the way back from Cadwell. It's also far enough south to attract those who reckon Cairngorm is "too far away" (note - this depends on where you start from...Wink)
scottishcarties | October 21, 2009 - 09:01

What about using a hill

What about using a hill climb course/track such as Doune or Bo'ness or even integrate with a hill climb event. there seem to be a few others such as Fintry and Monklands.

I don't know if any one has contacted organisers at these venues in the past, either for event sharing or use of. Also, if off the main roads stops upsetting locals for blocking/restricting road use.

azuma | October 20, 2009 - 23:23
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hill climbs in reverse

Good idea - Forrestburn (just off the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh) looks good too. Its circular, which means you can get carties back to the start without having to close the live track - much more efficient. Racing could then be more or less continuous.
scottishcarties | October 21, 2009 - 09:13

Knock hill has potential for

Knock hill has potential for a short demo event during a race weekend. I once competed there in a hill climb.
Anonymous | November 7, 2009 - 21:39
scottishcarties's picture

Anyone got the bottle for this?

How about this one?
It drops nearly 1900 feet in 4.7 miles, average gradient of 1:13, but considerably steeper than this in places. It makes Cairngorm look like a wheelchair ramp... Laughing
scottishcarties | November 27, 2009 - 11:38

This hill surely merits a

This hill surely merits a bit of effort to do a proper test run if it is a possible venue?

Anyway has the gauntlet not already been thrown down?Laughing

peasnbarley | November 27, 2009 - 20:01

I think maybe a weekend trip

I think maybe a weekend trip over there in the spring would be fun.
Anonymous | November 27, 2009 - 20:29

Is that Stelvio?? Awesome

Is that Stelvio?? [IMG]http://i126.photobucket.com/albums/p82/ilu-azuma/other%20pics/stelvio-pass-road-redefining-switch.jpg[/IMG] Awesome road - but brakes could be a slight issue
Anonymous | November 28, 2009 - 00:43
scottishcarties's picture

Nope - it's much closer to

Nope - it's much closer to home than Italy Cool

scottishcarties | November 28, 2009 - 02:56

give us a clue?

give us a clue?
Anonymous | November 28, 2009 - 11:07
scottishcarties's picture

Bealach na Ba

Bealach na Ba - the highest road in Scotland, apparently.

Actually, there are two runs there. From the top of the pass you can head either way. Both look entertaining.

scottishcarties | November 28, 2009 - 14:42

Bealach na Ba

Looks like a wonderful location for a spot of guerilla gravity action - now, where did I put my brown Y-fronts? GG
Anonymous | December 1, 2009 - 12:47

Bit of a problem there in

Bit of a problem there in that we don't do reverse!Smile The top part would be a bit iffy should a cart make contact with the rock face as the effect could well spring it over the barriers. Another problem that far West is the men tend to encourage you to get very drunk and their wives attempt to make you fat by supplying numerous cups of tea and scones. I don't know if our English contingent are quite ready for the culture shock!Wink
peasnbarley | December 1, 2009 - 19:56
scottishcarties's picture

Lowther Hill?

Lowther Hill looks interesting. Good location, dead end road (access for radar stations only), some nice gentle slopes on the ridge for a juniors race, and a 261m drop down the twisty 3790m road to Wanlockhead. Average gradient 1:14 - steepest is better than 1:6, just after the start - ought to be good for comfortably over 60mph if you can make it stick through the bends.

Nice wide road, so we could do proper racing, and from the pictures I've seen there are no major track side hazards. Has to be worth a look...

Anyone have any local contacts?


scottishcarties | December 1, 2009 - 16:43
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The more I look at this hill, the better it gets

The more I look at this hill, the better it gets. As well as the big hill for the full-on racers, it looks like there are a couple of slopes on the ridge line that would give relatively low speed short courses  (30-40mph) - good for juniors, novices, etc, and maybe a short but fiendishly technical slalom course.

I think it has tremendous potential, but we need a site visit to confirm.

scottishcarties | December 2, 2009 - 10:06

long fast hill

There is an epic minor road that follows partially along next to the M90 between glenfarg and bridge of earn.halfway it crosses over the motorway. I have taken my street-luge down and clocked 60mph easily. It's 2 miles of tarmac but has seen better days but still good for soapbox.hopefully the council may resurface/repair soon but not the rough crap they tend to put on steep country roads. Also the B934 that runs down into dunning village is a 4 mile beast slightly rough surface again not so great for luge but fine for soapbox. Another good road is the cleish road near knockhill race circuit about 1.5 miles long. I'm interested in organizing a downhill event including soapbox,downhill skateboard and luge and try to make it an igsa event like eastbourne was. I'd like to hear people's ideas /opinions I think scotland has a wealth of great roads for the sport and we could create a really specal event and attract international competitors
Iain J (not verified) | July 31, 2010 - 21:41
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Hi Iain,The B934 certainly

Hi Iain,

The B934 certainly looks interesting, and as a matter of fact I'd had a look at it on google earth a while ago. Since it is a through road it might be problematic to get a closure, and a four mile course would also present significant organisational issues - it's a big enough task managing the two mile course at Cairngorm!

We certainly have some stunning hills mountains in Scotland, and we could easily offer several world class venues. Whether or not the IGSA would be interested is another matter, but if they were I would hope they would consider including a significant soapbox and gravity sidecar component to the competition. I may be wrong about this, but my feeling was that the soapbox aspect to Eastbourne was just a bit of a sideshow.

If you can make any progress with these or any other venues then get in touch and we (the SCA) will do what we can to help. We've got quite a bit of experience setting up gravity races and can provide help with procedures, risk assessments, safety plans, equipment and technical expertise, not to mention a growing number of teams who will want to take part.

scottishcarties | August 2, 2010 - 20:15

what about cheddar gorge?

what about cheddar gorge?
dougpeel (not verified) | August 5, 2012 - 15:06
scottishcarties's picture

Cheddar Gorge Soapbox

Cheddar Gorge does look pretty amazing. The topography of the gorge and the cuttings for the road mean that it's difficult to get a good elevation profile for the course, but it looks like speeds from 20-40mph on most of the course, increasing to around 50mph at the end. There are 4 or 5 big bends where braking would be needed. It looks wide enough for racing too if you wanted.

The down side is the compete lack of anything resembling a run off - get it wrong and you are straight into a limestone cliff.

It's too far away for any direct involvement by the SCA, but we can advise anyone local who is interested in getting something going. I'm certain you'd get a good number of entries. Anyone fancy giving it a go?

scottishcarties | August 17, 2012 - 13:38
bigmac's picture

Mystery venue


I'm new to all this gravity racing thing, but recently bought the CartieSim programme and have been playing about with different potential venues that I know well.

This is what I came up with;

 What do you reckon?- About 3/4 of the course above 40mph, a 60 mph top speed (with standard cartie) and an average 1 in 14 gradient. All in a place that is not as far away as Cheddar Gorge (in some respects!), ends in a town's centre, and is somewhere that they are used to shutting roads for whacky adventures!

Anyone guess where? (Unfortunately not in Scotland) 


Oh, and PS- the course is over 4 minutes!!! 

bigmac | September 10, 2012 - 20:58
scottishcarties's picture

I know where it is...

Interesting idea.

Realistically though there are very few carties that would be up to the job. That first turn is a beast - braking from 60mph+ to 30mph is not trivial. I'd bring the start line about 1200m further down the hill to reduce the entry speeds into that bend and take the sting out of it a bit.

The hairpin would be a challenge too - it'd be bad to discover you'd cooked your brakes on the last two bends as you're hurtling into it at 50mph...

On the plus side - it looks like a lot of the corner protection is already in place, and the tarmac looks like it could be a race track... 



scottishcarties | September 10, 2012 - 22:44
bigmac's picture

was it that obvious?!

In case other people are wondering, the mystery venue above is the mountain road down into Ramsey in the Isle of Man. (Part of the TTcourse, albeit backwards!)

Wonder if the TT organisers would piggyback a gravity event on to the festivities?


A high profile event like that could maybe persuade all the teams such as Lotus and Bentley to dig out their old soapboxes

bigmac | September 11, 2012 - 11:57
scottishcarties's picture

superb course

It didn't take long to figure out from your clues, but I have looked at a few courses on the IoM anyway. 

It'd make a superb course. There are enough corners to make driver skill a big factor in determining the winner and it'd be good for a multi-discipline event too. I'm sure that luge, standup, gravity bike and gravity sidecar would go really well there. The only downside I can see is that it would need a new cartie specification drawing up as none of the ones currently in use are up to the job. Oddly enought it may be the case that a much more simple cartie spec' would be appropriate, with carties being relatively light and open chassis - no fairings, no harnesses and no roll bars - something like the SCA Bandit for instance.

As always, the challenge would be finding the money to make it happen and finding enough people to marshal the course.


SCA Bandit

scottishcarties | September 11, 2012 - 13:52
bigmac's picture


Not sure that simple carties would be best as regards Health and Safety and Insurance, but I dont have the experience you do.

Would it not be better to use similar regs to Goodwood so that the old soapbox racers from the big manufacturers would turn up (to create a bigger spectacle and add validity to an event)?

I agree that there needs to be some more consensus regarding technical regs as I am currently designing/building a cartie and having difficulty in making it suitable for many of the races whilst still being potentially competitive.

For instance why is there sometimes a max cartie weight and not a max overall weight? On a course with little braking it gives an advantage to big lads like me.

I for one would love to see a gravity event on the IoM, especially if it was tacked on to the back of a TT or TT Classic race. The locals are certainly mad enough!


bigmac | September 11, 2012 - 14:27
scottishcarties's picture

maximum weight

The maximum weight tends to be without the driver for practical reasons. Many teams want to have more than one driver, so if you have a max all up weight they will want to ballast up to the maximum allowed when they swap drivers. You would therefore have to weight every cartie before every run, with the inevitable faffing about and potential delays or disqualifications if people are over the limit. By the time you've finished, you end up spending more time weighing the carties than you do racing. Easier to just weigh them once at the start and have done with it.

Also, a maximum all up weight means that teams with heavier drivers have less weight available for structural mass. The heavier your driver, the lighter your cartie. i.e. the very teams who would need to build the stronger carties are the ones who have the least amount of steel allowed ...

Whilst it is true that any cartie will go faster if you stick more mass in it, it doesn't follow that the heaviest cartie will always win. The two fastest machines in the UK - Red Gazelle and C12 - are also two of the lightest. 

There is a summary of the various dimensions etc., in use at different events at http://scottishcarties.org.uk/news/2011/universalDimension.It's a bit old now and could do with a review/update, but it's basically right and means you can pick the best dimensions depending on the races you want to go to.

scottishcarties | September 11, 2012 - 16:08
bigmac's picture

Another Potential Venue

Cheers for the info. 

AAnother potential venue now, a bit closer to home, how about this?

Anyone guess where? (it may be a nightmare to close roads!)


bigmac | September 12, 2012 - 11:43
scottishcarties's picture

That's more like it

That looks a bit more like it - relatively sane top speeds and a technical course but not overly challenging in terms of braking. Looks really good from the chart. I don't know where it is though, except it's probably not in the highlands if it starts at 150m AMSL. Also "closer to home" really rather depends on where your home is... Wink

I'm really impressed  with the way you've got to grips with cartiesim by the way - impressive stuff. Where are you getting the course data from? 

scottishcarties | September 12, 2012 - 13:29
bigmac's picture

Closer to home

I think this venue is close-by for both of us. I live near Brechin (in fact were you there today at the meeting???) and the above mystery venue is only about 25miles south.

It is.................Dundee! (i did say road closures would be a nightmare!!!)


Starts on "The Law" (of Gravity!) and finishes in the Multi Car Park behind Abertay library. Dreamland maybe, but fun nevertheless!

As for course data, I am just using GoogleEarth and SRTM values as that is what seems to work. Is there a better way? 


bigmac | September 12, 2012 - 18:27
scottishcarties's picture

Another possible venue...

Yes I was at the meeting yesterday. It went really well and I was very impressed with the way the organisers have gone about putting the Brechin race together - they've done a very thorough and professional job and I'm really looking forward to the race. I think it'll be exceptionally well run.

The Dundee course is probably impractical in terms of road closures, unfortunately. It'd be good apart from that though. I've found another potential course not so far away though - Glendoick near Perth. It has a lot of really nice features. Three hairpin bends, and you can easily control the entry speeds into the first hairpin by careful placing of the start line. Top speeds between 40 & 50mph and about 1km long. Very tasty.There is even a loop road back to the start so carties could be recovered without taking them back up the course.

It could be a lot longer and faster, but then you'd need to start braking for the first hairpin long before you can actually see it!

speed profile

scottishcarties | September 13, 2012 - 13:02
bigmac's picture


Yes, the Glendoick venue looks good, I have also looked at the adjoining road (Pitroddie?) but it's maybe not as good.

 I was out on the road yesterday, and happened to drive up a beaut of a road! It is based near Trinafour in Highland Perthshire (ending at Dalchalloch to be precise). It is about 2km long with switchbacks (and crash barriers!), the only issue is a heavy braking spot after a straight halfway down. Maybe this could be broken up with a chicane to slow things down. Have a look and see what you think?

Also I have found an ultimate high speed descent (speed record stuff!) on the West Coast. A standard cartie would get around 77mph without any need to brake for any corners! This is before you start adding extra mass! The spot i'm taking about is the descent into Achleek (the A884). Wowsers!

What do you reckon!!!

bigmac | September 14, 2012 - 15:30
scottishcarties's picture

Very nice

I really like the Dalchalloch - there are a couple of issues and it might be wise to finish before the last few bends, but the top section looks really nice.

There are actually three really good looking courses near Perth; Glendoick, Pitroddie and Kilspindle - all of them are within a mile of each other. There are a couple more on the other side of the river in the Lomond Hills - one running down towards Freuchie and a really long drag down into Glenrothes.

I couldn't get the same figures as you for Achleek - the best I could get was 66mph (which is still fairly nipping...). What parameters are you using?

scottishcarties | September 19, 2012 - 21:33
bigmac's picture


Sorry, i got the Achleek figures slightly wrong, but I am still getting more than 66mph. I had modified the "typical cartie" to have 200kg of mass instead of the standard 165kg. But, even at 165kg I am still getting 72mph. It would be interesting to see how we have got different results- I am still not sure I am doing it right! Anyway, this is what I got;


Because there is no need for braking (despite your brain telling you to!) it wouldn't be a great downhill run for anything other than high speed shenanigans. 


I have to stop dreaming about all these courses and finish building my real world cartie! I've become a CartieSim addict!!!


bigmac | September 20, 2012 - 19:16
scottishcarties's picture


I've finally figured out the discrepancy between your resuts and mine - you're using ASTER elevation data, presumably because the SRTM data is missing at the bottom of the course. This is a side effect of the elevation interpolation routine and the proximity of the loch, which is represented by "no data" in the SRTM data set. Anyway - either way you're right it looks pretty quick.
scottishcarties | September 28, 2012 - 12:30

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