Watch out Mercedes, Lewis Hamsterton's the new kid on the block

A hamster driving a soapbox kart? Whatever next!

That’s the plan dreamt up by a team of Product Design students and tutors at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) who have been accepted to compete in the televised Red Bull Soapbox Race.


From left, Sarah Wharton, Nick Rowan, Emily Hancock, Alan Crummey and Glenn Byford plan their Great Escape.

And the team have set themselves just eight weeks to design, build and test their quirky vehicle, waiting until after they have handed in all their final degree work.

Now they need people to vote for them on the competition website – and they need volunteers to help them build and test their rodent-fuelled roadster.

Soapbox kart design crop

The driving force behind the project is Emily Hancock, 21, from Market Rasen, Lincs, who is in the final year of her Product Design degree course and who will be staying at DMU to do her Master’s.

“I saw a rerun of the last event on the Dave channel on TV and spoke to one of my tutors about it,” she explained.

“It grew from there, we got a little group together and we were sitting in the pub thinking ‘what are we going to do’ when Alan Crummey, one of the tutors, came back with this idea of a hamster ball, with a hamster inside escaping from the vets.

“Another tutor, Nick Rowan, who will be leading the build project, will be dressed as a hamster, driving down the track in a hamster ball – it’s crazy!

“We want to get as many people involved as possible in building it and testing it – we’re hoping to be able to test it in Mill Lane.”


Her fellow final year students Sarah Wharton and Glenn Byford make up the rest of The Great Escape team, who are one of 75 chosen to compete.

The bi-annual race will be on Sunday, July 9, at Alexandra Palace in North London and will be broadcast later in the year by the Dave television channel.

Dave have already selected the DMU group as one of 25 teams which they will visit to film profile pieces about.


Red Bull Soapbox Race is an international event in which amateur drivers race homemade non-motorised soapbox vehicles, fuelled by nothing but sheer courage and the force of gravity in a downhill race.

The races have been held all around the world and entries are judged not only on their speed on the track, but also on their showmanship and creativity – the more outrageous, preposterous and ostentatious the better.

Follow the team’s progress @TGESoapbox2017 on twitter, vote for them on the Red Bull website and to volunteer to help the team, phone 07522 434661 or email

Posted on Thursday 11th May 2017

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