RIDERS are busy adding the final touches to their beloved machines ahead of the return of a much-loved soapbox race next month.

Soapbox racing is a sport which was made famous by Red Bull and involves everyday people creating homemade go-karts powered by nothing other than gravity and sheer courage.

Up to 40 karts and their thrill-seeking passengers will race down a hill in the village of Great Easton for the third year in a row, negotiating tricky jumps and other obstacles as they look to set a quick time.

The racers usually decorate their soapboxes with a novelty theme – a tank-based creation captured the imagination of the crowds last year.

But, decorated or not, every kart is put through its paces by the obstacles which can sometimes result in some pretty spectacular crashes.

The race is a great spectacle for those watching, but can leave the racers nursing a bruise or two the next morning. Alastair Farr, chair of the organising committee, said: “Last year we had more than 2,000 spectators and we raised £12,000 for charity.

“We aim to beat both this year.

“We have a wonderful raffle – the first prize is a return flight for two to Le Touquet from Andrewsfield so the winners can pop over to France for lunch.”

The village of Great Easton is just to the north of Dunmow and the soapbox challenge will take place on Saturday, September 1.

It is designed to be a brilliant day for young and old ailke, with entry free, but a small charge applying for car parking.

The first kart will start at noon and the road through the village will be shut from 11am until 3pm.

Craft stalls and side-shows will support the event and all proceeds will be split between the Royal British Legion and the village community association.

Application forms to enter the race are available by visiting www.facebook.com/GESoapbox/, or from the Swan pub in the village.