Billy cart race back on in Castlemaine in 2017

Next month will see the revival of a cherished Castlemaine event.

Entries are now open for the Castlemaine Billy Cart Challenge, which will see enthusiasts race down the Mostyn Street hill.

Its roots lie in the Apex Soap Box Derby, a billy cart competition established in 1949 which continued until the 1960s. It returned in 1997, but it has not been held since 2003.

Organiser Camilo Demarco said he intended that the event would bring people from different parts of the community together.

He also hopes it will put Castlemaine – already well-known among hot rod lovers – on the map as the billy cart capital of Australia.

Fellow organiser Jane Goodrich added that Castlemaine held the first soap box derby in the country after World War II, so the event was part of the town’s identity.

The challenge, held as part of Mental Health Week, will raise money for the ELM Network, a local suicide prevention and awareness initiative.

While the organisers don’t yet know how many racers might end up putting themselves forward for the challenge, they say there has been a fair bit of excitement around town at the news the beloved event will return.

The day will not only feature races in four divisions (under 12s, unders 16s, 16 years-plus open and professionals), but live music and food.

The pros will race from the top of the hill, near the Burke and Wills monument, while the starting line for the other divisions will be further down the hill.

Billy cart enthusiast Peter Williams is among those who will attend on the day.

He plans to bring along his bright orange cart, which he and his son fashioned from a 1934 Chevy.

Mr Williams first became involved in the billy cart challenge in 1997, and in the time since has built four carts.

He said his 25-year-old son couldn’t wait to race the cart on the day.

Entries for the October 14 event close on October 4.

For more information or to enter, visit the Castlemaine Billy Cart Challenge website.

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