Beechwood Billycart Classic

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Reaching speeds of up to 100 km/h as they race down Pappinbarra Mountain, billycarts are an absolute spectacle to witness! The Beechwood Billycart Classic will be held on October 21st this year. Event organiser James Wallis fills us in on the finer details of the event, and he also has some suggestions about the best vantage points for spectators …

Hi James. What’s the history behind the Beechwood Billycart Classic?

This will be the 39th running of the Beechwood Billycart Classic. I have been told it started out as a boat race down the Hastings River at Beechwood, but once a drought hit, it took to the billycarts. It was run in turns by the Wauchope Rotary, Lions and Apex Clubs, but since 2006 the Apex Club of Wauchope and the Beechwood Recreational Reserve Trust members, together with a few Beechwood residents, have been the people keeping this event running.

The Classic will be held on October 21st this year. Where’s the best place for spectators to gather – and what time will action kick off?

The best places to be are up the mountain; any corner or near the bottom of a steep hill are usually good. You will need to be in position by 11am, as the road will be closed to all traffic for the safety of the carts, and the carts will be given the green flag once the road is all clear. Once the main race is finished, the road will be opened to the start line of the kids’ race, where you can come back down for the rest of the activities.

Describe the billycart course … how long is it (and how steep)?

The main race is over a 5 km section of road that is down and uphill. The carts can reach speeds of approx. 100 km/h, so it’s fairly steep. Some competitors will have to push their carts up the next hill; some won’t. 

The kids’ race is approx. half a kilometre and downhill only. Both races have the same finish line, that is out the front of the Beechwood Hotel.

Billycarting doesn’t look like a sport for the faint-hearted! What level of skill is needed by the drivers?

Knowing where on the road to cart and when and how much to brake are the main factors in carting. Being able to hang on to the steering and making sure your co-driver is still in the cart is also a benefit! 

The 5 km course has been done in 5 mins 39 secs in 2012 by Stephen and Robert Johnson.

What’s the criteria for people who’d like to enter the Classic? Are there certain specs their carts need to have, and is there an age limit for drivers?

There are three categories that carts fall into: Open, 4 Wheel and Pro. 

Open carts must not have sides higher than 500 mm from the floor of the cart and have no screens. 4 wheel carts can be open or enclosed – they just need to have 4 wheels – and the Pro class is for the faster carts. 

The carts will need to be able to stop themselves, especially for the finish line, so we require an adequate braking system. As caliper type brakes are prone to fade with carts, we like the carts fitted with bike disc brakes and a paddle on the rear wheels, if this also fails. 

For the main race you must be at least 15 years old, with parental consent.

If the carting action isn’t enough, what other entertainment/refreshments will be available on the day?

From 9am there will be market stalls, kids’ rides and food and drinks. As we celebrate 100 years in the Hastings, we will also be having vintage cars on display and a historic display.

Where do funds raised from the Classic go?

All raised funds go to the groups that help out on the day, that being Wauchope Rotary, Wauchope Lions, Beechwood Rural Fire Service, Oxley Region Amateur Radio, Apex Club of Wauchope, with the remains to the Beechwood Recreational Grounds Trust for the improvements to the only non-council owned sporting ground in the area.

Whom would you like to thank for their help with organising/sponsoring this year’s Classic?

The Beechwood Hotel have been very generous towards the Classic each year, which we are very grateful for. The Hotel provide the venue, organise the music and together with Thompsons Hardware, donate the prize for our raffle.

Where can we register for the event or find out more info?

The entry form is available on the classic’s website where there are YouTube clips from previous years, or at the Beechwood Hotel.

Thanks James.

Interview Jo Robinson.

Pics: courtesy of Tracey Fairhurst, Port News.

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