IT CAN reach speeds upwards of 60 kilometres an hour, weaving neatly through downhill twists and bends.
But while Allansford’s Graeme Smith enjoys the rush of racing his purpose-built billy cart, it’s the people that keep him coming back for more.
“It’s all a bit of fun and I often get kids who just love the cart at the different events,” he said.
“It’s named ‘Lightning McQueen’ after the character from Pixar’s Cars. I let them get in to have a bit of a look at it and they just love it.
“It’s good fun doing what you enjoy, meeting other people and the challenge of it all is just fantastic.”
That doesn’t mean it isn’t competitive.
Smith returned from last week’s Australian Billy Cart Championships with a first-place gong in the event’s open category, beating out seven racers for the prize.
That followed a victory in Adelaide’s hills region the week prior.
The 65-year-old said he was introduced to billy carting through a friend in Allansford.
“A bloke called Rod Payne, who lives out the road, got me into it. I’ve been doing it for three years but I was tagging along to watch for a long time before I actually raced,” Smith said.
“I’ve been following speedway and racing for a long time, but now not as much as I used to.
“I’ve always been a mechanical person. The good thing about billy carts is that it’s a lot cheaper because it doesn’t require a motor.
“Believe me, it’s not a big sport – it’s an obscure sport – but the little towns put the events on and people are curious to come and have a look.”
Smith told The Standard he built the vehicle almost entirely with parts from internet sites.
“A lot of the stuff, like the tyres, are recumbent bicycle parts,” he said.
“I’ve got another cart, one that I use to race at Harrow, because you have to race for further distances and take sharper corners.
“But this one is very stable. I got up to 70 kilometres the other day, and in the heats I was rolling at 67 or 68 per hour on a nice hotmix surface.
“It’s all the purpose of gravity. It’s simple. You put something at the top of the hill, and it will roll down.”
Smith said while billy carting was common in Warrnambool through his childhood, it had declined due to the emergence of technology for children.
He said the majority of racers were elder statesmen.
“There used to be billy cart races in Warrnambool when I was a kid, up the top of the (Lava Street) hill. It’s smaller now,” Smith said.
“A lot of the people racing are older blokes. There was a 74-year-old retired schoolteacher the other day.
“It’s a hobby and it definitely keeps you going.”