Cockfield: Could Suffolk-built racer take world speed title?

IT might not have an engine, but this Suffolk-built racer is poised to go head to head against a sports car and could well scoop a speed record.

The gravity racer built by Cockfield-based Graham Parish Engineering was commissioned by Channel Five’s The Gadget Show.

It will be collected tomorrow before being shipped out to Germany where it will take on a Lotus in an unusual racing challenge.

The formula one-style soapbox will travel downhill over a course while the Lotus travels the same distance uphill.

The team at Graham Parish Engineering, which has made a number of items for the popular Channel Five show including “the ultimate gadget chair” and a hoverboard, are quietly hopeful their gravity racer will prove victorious.

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However, they are also pleased they won’t be in the vehicle for the race, which will take place on a stretch of road with six hills and nine hairpin bends.

Stuart Parish said: “I don’t think I’d fancy it with the drops they have on the course.

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“The Gadget Show jobs are hard work but they are fun as well.”

His colleague Simon Oldfield told how the frame had been made from mild steel covered by aluminium sheet. The welding has been done by David Manning.

Overseeing the project has been David Ackroyd, who runs Formula Gravity, and holds the current world record for a soapbox, which stands at 62mph.

Paying tribute to Parish Engineering, which is best known for making hospital beds, Mr Ackroyd said: “They have done fantastically well and have helped on eight projects covering land and sea. I think I can say I would not be surprised if this gravity racer breaks the world record.”

Mr Ackroyd, of Hartest, took the racer out in the village to give it a test drive. He told how Russell Annison, of Lola Cars International, had helped come up with the design.

He said if somebody wanted to start from scratch and design a similar gravity racer, the expertise and materials so far expended on the project would run to about �45,000.

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