Red Bull’s cardboard creativity looks to inspire more lunatics to laugh in the face of gravity

For four years, the Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix has drawn the crowds and the competitors to the Auckland Domain with its heady brew of speed, creativity, dubious engineering and, ideally, low-level injury resulting from spectacular crashes. The gravity-fuelled competition is back for its fifth run on November 22 and Red Bull and Special Group have created a clever ‘interactive’ call for entries campaign to get more teams interested in competing (and, presumably, more sadists interested in watching them).  

Inspired by the mad contraptions dreamed up by teams, perforated cards that can be made into a trolley (or, as they call them in the US, a soapbox) and tailored to create different models like the mexican, the rat, the unicorn or the apocalypse are being inserted into Red Bull’s magazine, The Red Bulletin, and point people in the direction of the website (applications close July 31, so get thinking). 

The competition will see a total of 50 teams of five from around New Zealand competing in the race, up from 40 in the previous event in 2013. 

As the Red Bull site says: “Only the most incredible trolley designs that really stand out from the pack will be selected to race. Race Control is on the look-out for the type of person with a shed set up for every kind of DIY repair, but all they do is change light bulbs, hang clothes lines and store unwanted stuff from the house. If this is somebody you know, this is their big chance to finally use their shed for its true purpose – a chance for national Grand Prix stardom. It’s time for them to unleash their artistic flair and design a trolley that will conquer and defeat all other drivers come race day on November 22. The 50 selected teams will embark on a three month journey to build their dream trolley and get it up to race standard, before attempting to make it down the new action packed track in one piece. Teams will also need to think about what short skit they will perform to wow the crowds and rally support before pushing their trolleys onto the start line. Drivers will be in with a chance to win a first place $10,000 cash prize; not to mention the glory of a Grand Prix victory!” 

Designs from 2013 included everything from a full sized bull, Bert and Ernie in bed, a Transformer, a military helicopter, ‘Chitty Bang’, a Smurf-mobile and a catamaran. Four Square, Memphis Meltdown and Freedom Farms were among the businesses that got in on the action last time in front of a crowd of 80,000. 

Memphis Meltdown had its pit crew perform an elaborate dance in Storm Trooper costumes to introduce their trolley. Once the vehicle was revealed, the insanity was taken a step further because a series of real ice creams served as faux pistons. The elaborateness of the entry led comedic hosts for the TV broadcast, Jono and Ben, to quip, “That’s what you get with the Tip Top corporate dollar.”

In contrast to the to the Memphis Meltdown madness, Four Square went for a more traditional approach with a Formula One-themed vehicle. The Four Square Facebook page was updated regularly with step-by-step posts of the building process, and the company even dedicated a website to the team. 


Freedom Farms, whose entry ‘Cook Me Some Eggs’ finished second in the event, was the top performer in the corporate category. Rather than going for an aerodynamic approach, it opted to send a giant frying pan down the track. Their farm-themed introductory skit, which included the hatching of a driver, was a huge hit among the panel of judges.

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