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The 1969 Scout Soap Box Derby Report

Here's the highly anticipated report of the historic first Scout Car Grand Prix back in 1969 - the Scout Soap Box Derby at the City Stadium - as reported in the Scouting Herald of Penang Free School 1969, Volume 1 No. 3. This is part of a series of articles to debunk claims that the pedal car race organised by the Penang Turf Club in August 2007 is the first ever pedal car racing in Malaysia as claimed by them and rubber-stamped by the Malaysian Book of Records. Let's now relive what happened on that historic day.
Report on the Scout Soap Box Derby held at the City Stadium on 30th March 1969

The B-P Guild (PFS Branch), Penang made history at the City Stadium, Penang on 30th March 1969 when the Soap Box Derby, the first of its kind ever organised in the part of the world, was held. The response from the youngest to the oldest of the Scouting Fraternity was most heartening. The event attracted ten Soap Box vehicles and forty participants ranging in age from ten to twenty of both sexes. The enthusiastic crowd that turned up, packed the grandstand to cheer their favourites to victory. The members of the Girl Guides Movement added an attraction to the gathering. 16 Girl Guides and Land Rangers competed very keenly in 'borrowed' vehicles from the Scouts in their respective events.

A team of assessors and testers examined and tried the nine vehicles assembled at the paddock, but the tenth, 'The Saint' failed to make its appearance. After a hard time of valuation, the panel decided that the Best Constructed Vehicle was the 'Chung Ling Eleven' made by the 11th Georgetown (S) of the Chung Ling High School, Penang. Mark 2 GT SSS of Methodist Boys School's 2nd Georgetown South took the award of the Most Ingeniously Devised and the Best Looking Vehicle went to the 7th Georgetown (S) of the Penang Free School, Penang.

The opening ceremony of the Derby was performed by YB Enche Aziz Ibrahim, JMB, JP, the Chairman of the Guild. On a signal by the Grid Marshall, Mr. Peter Oon, eight vehicles lined up at the starting-point for the first race for Senior Scouts. The race was flagged off by Dr. Khoo Kim Cheng, AMN and they pedalled hard and were neck and neck in the first lap, but as they entered the second lap, the Penang Free School's entry 'Valu-Valu' moved ahead, with the Methodist Boys School's Mark 2 GT SSS trailing closely. By the end of the 1200 metres, the 'Valu-Valu' won the most thrilling and magnificent race of the day.

Excitement mounted high as each race followed the other in the various sections. Three vehicles which, however, could not last the pace of the hard pedalling, dropped out and the riders allotted to them were somewhat disappointed.

After the events for the Scouts, there was an intermission where some fifty Girl Guides of the St. Georget's Girls School, Penang took over the scene with a splendid display of folk-dancing. The Penang Free School Scouts entertained the crowd next with a few old favourites to the accompaniment of three guitars.

The Girl Guides' events resumed with earnest and the results of each race received rounds of applause from the spectators. It was indeed a day of merriment and fun; and the carnival spirit that prevailed throughout the morning at the City Stadium on 30th March, 1969 will long be remembered until perhaps, the next SOAP BOX DERY of the B-P GUILD (PFS BRANCH), 1970!

Organising Secretary,
Soap Box Derby Sub-Committee,
B-P Guild (PFS Branch) Penang.
I don't know about you but this seems very much to me like damning evidence that the 1969 Scout Soap Box Derby did take place nearly 40 years before the so-called 'first pedal car race' organised in August 2007. Unless of course the report was a work of fiction by ADC Hwang Hong Shi (like Memoirs of a Sea Scout) and those who supposedly participated in the event are fictitious. You draw the conclusion on that. In the next instalment, the nine Soap Box vehicles that participated in the event will be revealed...through PICTURES!!! Stay tuned.

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