Emily Gravenor, Camping & Caravanning’s newest team member, got her first taste of a social camping meet at Leeds District Association (DA)’s 25th Annual Bogie Race near Wakefield in Yorkshire. It was clear what the first question of the day was going to be: so, what exactly is a bogie…?
Years of expertise, secrets handed down through families, a talent for invention - and sheer bloody-mindedness. These are all factors involved in making, and racing, your own bogie at Leeds District Association (DA)’s famous Bogie Race meet. June saw the DA – and lots of guests – gather for the 25th annual Bogie Race near Wakefield in Yorkshire, with homemade karts primed to perfection and only a muddy field standing between them and certain bogie glory.
On my first venture out to a DA meet as part of the Camping & Caravanning team, I was keen to learn more about the mysterious world of the bogie. A quick internet search told me that the term ‘bogie’ was another word for a soapbox and it was likely to consist of a chassis or framework and a wheelset. However, a quick glance at the field told me there was more to it than that.
Should you go headfirst? Sit upright? Lean back and think of Leeds? Are you going for pram wheels or fat tyres - and have you factored in the shake-factor and cushioned your ride? Are you investing in a full outer shell, painted in Wacky Races style? Does your helmet match your bogie – and should you add neon ribbons to the wheels?
There were many different techniques and creations to admire in the bogie field, with the rules stating that each bogie has to be man-powered, with four wheels, a driver’s seat and a number plate, carry one person and fit within a certain size.
For non-drivers, watching the bogie racing is arguably just as fun – and considerably safer. Spectators set up deckchairs and umbrellas along the track, Thermos flasks to hand, ready to cheer competitors on and wait for the results from the timing team. Although the racing was a little slower than usual due to the rain and mud, only a few needed a push to get over the finish line and the fastest racers were still hitting speeds of well over 20mph.
There was a strong Scottish attendance at the meet, and it was the Martin brothers of Perth and Angus DA who won fastest driver, team and youth. The fastest female driver was Amie Teasdale and the fastest female team were Leeds DA’s Gemma Hawtin and Dora Hallsworth (who beat husband Chris for the third year in a row.)
Shelter from the rain came in the form of the huge marquee, where there was live music and dancing, possibly fuelled by the famous Leeds DA £1 bar. Former Leeds DA Chairman Phil Johnson, the first ever winner of the Bogie Race and runner up this year, cut the 25th anniversary cake and it was a good opportunity for the Camping Club Youth (CCY) to announce the results from the previous weekend’s fundraising. The whopping total was over £6000, which will be used to enrich their camping experience.
A real celebration of imagination, backyard building - and guts - the Bogie Race is a fun family weekend to plan into your calendar. And who knows, maybe I’ll be brave enough to have a go next time!
To read more about Leeds DA and the Bogie Race go to leedsda.org/bogierace
Bogie Race: behind the scenes
What are your bogie racing secrets?
: “The choice of wheels makes a big difference, especially in wet weather – you want bigger, wider wheels so you don’t get stuck.”
: “It’s my dad’s bogie. I don’t have any secrets – I just get on it and scream.”
: “This is our first year – we’re with Derby DA but it sounded exciting so we thought we’d come and have a go. We built our own bogie and I think I might be the oldest racer, at 72. It went so fast.”
: “This is Gemma Hawtin’s bogie. I’m trying to beat my other half, Chris, for the third year in a row. My top tip? Girl power!”
: “Some people talk about lead sheeting, but I’d recommend Valium.”