The absolutely crazy Saloppe soapbox race… Every summer, the popular Saloppe beer garden hosts car racing of a very different kind. The event actually had its 18th ‘birthday’ this year, but it steadfastly refuses to grow up. A crowd of around 6,000 people followed the daredevil descents of the foolhardy crews in their self-built racing crates on the Saloppe approach road. There were eleven teams battling for the Prix de Saloppe this time, but as always, there could only be one winner. The 2018 event was blessed by perfect weather, and neither the drivers nor the spectators will forget this one in a hurry.
The teams spend many months working on the design and construction of their vehicles which may not be propelled by any sort of engine or motor. It’s all down to muscle power. The components may be made of any material the teams like as long as the safety of driver and passengers is assured.
A tricky 800-metre descent
The track on which the race is contested is characterised by twists and turns. Over the years, it has come to be known as the Höllenhang (Hell Slope). The starting line is a four-metre ramp which allows the teams to build up enough momentum to tackle the 800-metre descent to the banks of the Elbe. After a right-hander and two left-handers, the toughest part is over. The teams fight for every tenth of a second. It is steep, and the hairpin bends call for extreme concentration and a good deal of courage. No wonder the drivers have such a frazzled look on their faces. But it’s all part of the fun – including spectacular crashes.