Team Spitphya Win Red Bull Soapbox 2013

We only went and won it!

It was a colossal effort from all involved to get the ‘Phyabird’ race ready for Sunday. After getting the chassis ready for Border Bogies in May we were left with a body to create in 6 weeks. The clay went well thanks to our army of students doing a lot of the buck-building.

Phyabird Clay Model

It was looking good until it came to moulding time. A change of supply in the moulding material led to some moulds that weren’t curing as quickly as normal, with time quickly running out. 10 men working late into the night all last week got the body into a paintable state by 6am Friday. Paint went on just in time to be dry for loading into the van on Friday evening for the long drive to London.

With a few more tweaks in the 31 degree heat of the Alexandra Palace “Pits” she was ready to roll at 6pm Saturday.

Team Spitphya Red Bull Soap Box


Close up


Top Down


Race day started badly with a few bad crashes at the final jump. The Dambusters, Scotch Eggspress and Sawpoint all took big hits with some broken bones, broken teeth and stitches. Thankfully Red Bull saw sense and turned the ramp around for a less severe launch. There were still crashes galore but thankfully no more serious injuries.

When our turn arrived, the performance piece went down better than we could have hoped. Owen and VME Ltd. provided the pyros that helped dazzle the judges into giving us a 39 out of 40 (Rob Marshall we will be hunting you down for that last point). Greg was launched down the hill, piloting Phyabird over a spectacular jump to the fastest run of the day of 33.57 secs. With only a few more runners we were confident of a podium until the call came that we were indeed 1st.






Phya Fly





The trophy, presented by Christian Horner of Red Bull Racing, has taken pride of place in the meeting room. Phyabird is sitting in the workshop whilst we work out what the hell to do with a 4m long soapbox!

Massive thanks to all who supported us…

Stomp for the wheels, tyres, suspension, brakes,

FM Steelstock for the steel that made up the chassis,

HEL for the braided brake lines, for the race spec rose joints,

Carter Bearings for the ISISZ ceramic wheel bearings,

VME, Owen and Jim for the Pyrotechnics and help setting up/ taming the organisers!

Paul Bell for patiently teaching us all how to weld,

Ben Thompson for being our advisor in all things soapbox,

Steve “Kidge” Kidgell and those at Dave for not making us look like tits on the telly,

Jen, the Amy’s and Liz for putting up with the men folk spending all their spare time in a workshop rather than at home,

And last but certainly not least, the students of Northumbria University- Ross, Charlie, Kostas, Matt and Doug for putting in a herculean effort to get things finished when we had other things to be worrying about! If it weren’t for these fine chaps it could have been a different story.

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