Derby day: bringing back the billycart race

They are reared with love and sacrifice, given the best of their parents' life experience.

And then comes the day when they must show their mettle - be taken to the top of a hill and pushed forcefully onward, ideally with a head screwed on straight, a body strong and true, and a fully functioning set of brakes.

More than 100 billycart entries will be put to the test on Wentworth Street tomorrow at the first Port Kembla Billycart Derby in 25 years.

Entries include charming wooden soapboxes, restored carts from the derbies of the 1980s, a giant wedding cake-shaped chariot, a surfboard-inspired creation and a few likely frontrunners engineered - sometimes with sponsorship backing - by students from the University of Wollongong.

Good News Travels Fast, in the industrial and senior open divisions, is the entry of Mercury editorial staff, including this scribe.

She was made with sheet metal, a wooden bottom and parts of an old trampoline frame, pulled together in a shed at West Dapto, with bits lopped off and welded or nailed back on in a trial-and-error style of engineering.

As the race deadline neared, Good News was increasingly fussed over - painted, her sharp edges covered in gleaming silver piping, her body covered in newspaper clippings and sealed with a shining varnish.

Event co-ordinator Val Ochalski, of Red Point Artists, has witnessed a great deal of billycarting pride at the event's earlier scrutineering.

"Everybody really fancies themselves [to win]," she said. "I think they like the challenge."

The senior open division is expected to be hotly contested, especially heat nine, which pits Victorian Troy Davie-Milne's Sniper against Whistler, by Port Kembla's Jim Manioladis.

Entrants are advised, in a section of the event overview titled 'It's not all about winning', to have fun. Children's races start at 8am from the corner of Fitzwilliam St, followed by the weird and wacky division from 12.30pm.

From 1.30pm organisers move the ramp further up the road for the industrial (1.30pm) and open senior (3pm) races, which cover a distance of about 400m.

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