Record breaker

Record breaker

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} Gosnells racer Tyler Patterson broke the Albany track record during the National Soapbox Championships over the Easter long weekend. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

The need for speed has seen Gosnells soapbox racer Tyler Patterson break a record that has stood for eight years during the National Soapbox Championships in Albany over the Easter long weekend.

The 14-year-old recorded a time 41.11 seconds while screaming down Mount Clarence’s Apex Drive at speeds of over 90km/h, besting the previous track record of 41.66 seconds, a record set in 2015.

With four races to determine the national champion after several rounds of qualifying, Tyler finished first in one and second in the remaining three, leaving him tied on 13 points with Albany dynamo Tyissa Condren.

Despite finishing second in a count-back from Condren, the course record is a highlight for Patterson, who was senior national champion in 2021 and junior national champion in 2019.

This in itself is hardly surprising, with his dad Ryan, his sister Sienna (2019 and 2020), his older brother Rylan (2018) all senior national champions.

It was following in his father’s footsteps that led Tyler to soapbox racing and since starting, he hasn’t looked back.

“I started when I was six, I guess I just followed in my Dad’s footsteps and it must run in the family,” he said.

“Before the race we check the bearings, the tyres, check the brakes, all the things you would expect and then gravity takes hold.

“Albany I don’t race much, so it’s hard to take a line to follow on that track.

“Apex Drive is pretty steep so I’d be just under 100km/h, maybe a bit over, whereas at the Perth track it’s about 80km/h.

“To get the record, they figured out I would have been going over 100km/h crossing the finishing line.

“Tyissa was better on the day, I won last year so I can’t say she had the home-track advantage.”

While the image most people may have of soapbox racing is a rickety, home-made contraption, these days the sleek machines are professionally made, and Tyler has no qualms about the speed or, for that matter, crashing.

“I’ve had heaps of crashes soapbox racing so I know I’m safe inside the soapbox and I trust the soapbox to keep me safe.

“When I’m getting up there in speed I’m not worried about the speed, I’m more worried about what position I’m in, who’s in front of me and who might be coming up from behind me.

“You’ve just got to focus and make sure you take the right lines.”

While he only has a couple of years left in soapbox racing, Tyler suspects he’ll continue to race – but he’s not quite sure what form that will take.

“There’s a couple of options and I’m not sure which one I’ll take, but I’m definitely going to race in some form.”