CROWDS gathered in the small Cotswold town of Tetbury to watch carts hurtle down a hill and brave the dreaded 'hairpin' bend at the town's Wacky Races.

The races, which attracted spectators and competitors from across the country and which saw more than 27 teams sign up to compete, took place yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday.

Tetbury's hugely popular event now has a six-time champion, Steve Thomas of C12 Composites in Chippenham.

Steve has been triumphant six times in a row and has managed a new record time this year, just two seconds below 30 minutes.

Steve used the same cart as last year's race but there were a few modifications to the steering to get the cart around the hairpin bend.

His success, according to him, is due to the fact that his cart is built for other races where there are faster carts.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

(Steve Thomas, six-time champion of the Wacky Races)

Event organisers also applauded The Parry Clan, who was hailed as the 'Wackiest Cart' this year with their splendid Anthill Mob re-creation. 

Jerry Parry of The Parry Clan said that the family, who enters the races every year, never goes for the speed: "We just do it for the fun day."

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

(The Parry Clan: Jerry Parry, son Hayden Parry and Matt Townsend)

In second place for speed was Jo Robson, of team Westonbirt Wizzbangs, and in third was Lee Wright, of team Car Care.

Organiser Richard Smith, of the Tetbury Lions, said: "Great fun was had by all and our innovation for this year - the outside TV screen - really helped things along."

Looking back at the event last year, families enjoyed sunnier weather and a more spacious spectator area - though light showers did hit the town later in the day.

With the opening of the Goods Shed arts centre in the town, food and refreshment were also provided for families outside the building.

The race route runs from Chipping Car Park, down to Chipping Street into the hairpin bend and to the Millennium Green at the bottom of Gumstool Hill.

The Standard spoke to a few of the teams before the races:

IT Group, a company based in Preston, have been competing in the races for the past four years. But this year, they decided on a more colourful theme, Mario & Luigi, as they showed off their Bullet Bill cart.

Chris Raske, who was dressed as Luigi, said: "We just thought it would be funny."

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

(IT Group's 'Bullet Bill' with Jason Coyne dressed as Mario and Chris Raske dressed as Luigi)

New to the Wacky Races was Westonbirt School's team, who had a cart decorated in the pattern of the school's kilt, lacrosse sticks and the school's tuck box. 

Six pupils from the school spent an hour a week after school, since September, designing and developing the cart. It has taken three attempts to build the cart used for the races yesterday. 

Driver Abigail Clarke, who is also a pupil at the school, said: "It was a learning process."

Gemma Gibbs, another driver, said: "I was nervous during the practice run but now I am just excited."

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

(Westonbirt School's team)

First-timers Team K-oss travelled from Dorset to take part in the races.

John Launchbury explained that they had come to spectate the races last year and "got sucked" to the event.

Driver Jen Launchbury, who is one of the few women drivers in the races, said she was "doing it for the girls" and hoped to compete again next year. 

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

(Team K-oss: Steve Bosworth, driver Jen Launchbury, and Jen's father John Launchbury)