A brief history of Splendid Teapot Racing

Teapot racing was one of those middle-of-the-night thoughts.

It came to Simone Montgomery (otherwise known as Countess Simona) of Port Chalmers, near New Zealand’s southern city of Dunedin, late in 2013.  Donna Rose, one of the Dunedin steampunk community, spent much of her time in a wheelchair and was restricted in the activities she could join in with.  The community was trying to think of different ways she could be included, and then Simona had The Dream.

The next morning she said to Norm Riley (Captain Various), ‘What about racing teapots?’.  His reaction, not unnaturally, was ‘Don’t be bleeding daft’, and thus Splendid Teapot Racing was born.

The idea of Splendid Teapot Racing is quite simple: get a radio-controlled car or truck, take the body off, attach a teapot and decorate to taste.  The very first racing teapot was Salty Sea Dog, built by Captain Various.  Salty participated with honour at many of the early New Zealand teapot races but is now enjoying a well-deserved retirement to ‘let the young ‘uns have a go,’ as he puts it.

Salty Sea Dog

Salty Sea Dog – the first splendid racing teapot.

The first public event was the 2014 Steampunk NZ Festival in Oamaru.  Much hilarity ensued, particularly around a certain oversized teapot from Christchurch whose Barbie doll’s legs were so positioned as to make negotiating the tunnel obstacle nearly impossible.

The sport moved up to the North Island in 2015 with the first CubaDupa festival in Wellington, and has since been seen in many New Zealand centres and now around the world – in the USA, Canada, England, Wales, Germany and probably some others we don’t know about yet.  The first World Championships were held in Oamaru on 4 June 2016 and we had a splendid turnout.