All downhill for trolley derby racers

NICE ONE, BRO: Mackenzie Harwood, 11, foreground and Allen Knott will both be racing in the Trolley Derby.
NICE ONE, BRO: Mackenzie Harwood, 11, foreground and Allen Knott will both be racing in the Trolley Derby.

This Saturday Nelson's trolley driving stars will flex their steering muscles as they fly down Collingwood St in the annual Robertson's Collingwood Street Trolley Derby.

The day "of fun" is for the whole family while also fundraising for the local arm of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters community group.

Big brother Allen Knott is involved with not one, but two trolleys. He is entering his United Video business in the new Mitre 10 F1 Corporate Challenge and helped build his little brother, Mackenzie's trolley for the sprinters challenge.

Allen drove trolleys when he was younger, but stopped when he was 10 or 11 years old.

He had lived in Nelson for "25 odd years" when three years ago he hoped back into a trolley.

It reignited something "quite addictive".

"Boys and toys going down a hill pretty fast," brought him back he says.

Mackenzie's trolley was made by Allen and a friend by welding two pushchairs together.

Allen's driving tips for the day are "drive straight and don't brake until you get to the end". Passing on the fun of trolley racing to Mackenzie has been rewarding.

"I think every kid needs to have a trolley in their life somewhere along the line. I think the more children who get involved with making or building or playing in their trolleys the better.

"It gets them off the couch and gets them doing something a little bit different while challenging themselves."

Nelson Trolley Club president Tim Bayley says the derby, which has run intermittently since the 1960s, is not just for the kids.

"I love making the trolleys. I love designing and building and then racing them. On the day it's great to see that thrill on the kids' faces from absolute paranoid fear at the top of the hill to the huge smile that beams across their face as they pass over the finish line."

Allen agrees.

"It's a good community effort. The streets get pretty well lined. Lots of people turn up and there are food stalls and coffee. Just another good fun day out; a real family day."

The Dacombe family, who have long been racing, are hoping to have four generations in the derby.

The corporate challenge has been introduced this year. Twelve Mitre 10 F1 style trolleys have been made and sold to Nelson businesses to race.

Besides the corporate challenge there are five race categories. The nippers aged 2-5 who raced with the help of parents on the bottom of the hill; the most popular class the zoomers aged 6-10; the sprinters aged 11-16; and the "oldies" in the rockets aged 17-99.

The trolley derby is this Saturday from 10am but will be postponed till the following week if it is raining.