Arts & Culture

High speeds match hot temperatures at Monaro Billy Kart Derby

Ian Campbell23 January 2017
Go you good thing - 2017 Monaro Billy Kart Derby

Go you good thing – Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017

With squeals of family fun still hanging in the air from this year’s event, organisers of the Monaro Billy Kart Derby have already locked in a date for next year’s race.

A hot, sunny day at Cooma Showground yesterday (January 22) attracted 34 entries for the second running of the Derby, ten more entries than last year.

The only match for the high temperature was the speed these homemade machines got to.

Cooma Police clocked Tom Brown at 42 km/hour in the Cooma Rural Fire Brigade kart which was the fastest speed for the day. Ben Morley covered the track in the best time – 17.53 seconds.

The event springs from a partnership between two generations forged as part of the Youth Frontiers Mentoring Program.

The program pairs high school students with local business people in a mentoring relationship that builds leadership, career and education skills for the future.

Born to be wild - Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017

Born to be wild – Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017

In the case of the Billy Kart Derby, businessman Tony Nassar and student Kurt Wassink are the program’s winning partnership.

“He’s the brains and I am the height,” laughs Kurt.

For the last 11 years, Kurt has been a student at Snowy Mountains Christian School in Cooma but starts at St Mary MacKillop College in Canberra next week for years 11 and 12.

“Tony has taught me the importance and power of community involvement,” Kurt says.

In the week’s leading up to race day, local families were encouraged to build a billy kart for the day.

“There was a real sense of families coming together,” Kurt says.

“If one parent was at the top of the track then the other would be at the bottom.”

A colourful and creative cast took to the sloping 300-metre track into Cooma Showground, hay bales donated by local farmer Dave Barron acting as protection during some wobbly moments.

“The guys from Canberra were back again this year with their hot rod style karts, which really spurs the locals on,” Kurt says.

Kurt’s own creation was an army jeep inspired kart painted army green with a white star on the side.

“I went for a 4 wheeler this year, 3 wheels are trouble.”

Kurt is grateful to all those who come out to make such a great event, including Cooma Car Club, Cooma Rural Fire Brigade, High Country Automotive Group, and Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

The finish line in sight - Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017

The finish line in sight – Monaro Billy Kart Derby 2017

“It just goes to show what a small community can do when they come together,” Kurt says.

The hale bales that lined the course and cushioned the blow for some riders were sold at the end of the day, raising around $400 for the Cooma Community Chest.

The third Monaro Billy Kart Derby will be held on Sunday, January 21, 2018.

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