Cartoon snail racing, what a crazy idea you might say... but you may wonder how everything started?
In the late the 90's I took a University course in computing. I was interested to find something new. Something that I could apply my newly acquired skills to. Then I attended a horse race night. It was one of those 'lightbulb' moments. I realised that computer technology could make the race night process much easier and better. The challenge excited me.
Areas for improvement were the need for public speaking. This was a daunting task for many; gathering sponsorships for the races was also an issue- it needed time and patience. The need to stop and start the event to select races was also an issue. It was troublesome and distracting and risked the loss of momentum. Also, race nights were generally with horses and dogs. This tended to portray a betting shop–like atmosphere. They attracted a primarily male audience.
Thanks to the experience made
I realised that you could avoid public speaking by having an on-screen virtual host. Moreover, I figured out that you could create personalised videos with sponsors’ names and you could automate their collection. That was not everything, indeed, I found that the start-stop issues could be overcome by compiling randomly selected races into one video at the source, so providing a unique continuous-play video.
This would require one click for the organiser to start the video playing after which he could relax. Once the organiser clicked the button to start the video playing the virtual host could take over and run the whole show. I also realised that animated cartoon snail racing could introduce more comedy and extend the appeal of race nights to women and children too.
Race night suppliers were all just providing a bundle of videos for a race night at that time, each with just one race. We developed a loop for each race, kicking off with the line-up of all the snails in the race, then an on-screen animated interval for the audience to buy tickets, and then a form guide where all the cartoon snails were described, complete with descriptions and images of each snail - age, weight, name, nationality and tentacle length.
Then the Cartoon Snail Racing was almost there
After the form guide we introduced a fun animated cartoon snail interview. After that came the snail race, and then the results were presented with each snail’s position in the race. Afterwards, we had a replica of the winning tote ticket show up on the screen. Between each cartoon snail race was a brief animated interval before the next race began.
Our on-screen host Peedy the parrot introduced every runner by name, described them in the form guide, conducted the interviews, announced the race results and presented a replica of the winning ticket in each race.
We introduced on-screen speech bubbles for our virtual host as an option for the hard of hearing and to overcome the noise from people cheering on their snails.
By perseverance, the Snail Racing reached the ark
The cartoon snail races then all needed making. We chose animated cartoon snails racing because it sounded crazy enough to catch everyone’s interest. In any case, England had a long history of real snail racing since Roman times so snail racing seemed like an established sport.
Animation of the cartoons was strenuous. Every race required hours of planning. Each needed a scene to be set and a story to be told to introduce the audience and set the scene for surprises, mishaps and laughter.
We learned about the timing of the delivery of punchlines. I and my team spoke to staff from bookies and asked them what makes a race exciting. We read books and articles about humour-types and how humour differed or showed similarities between different cultures. We found it was quite a mean feat to get an audience to laugh during a race, to induce excitement, but we mastered it.
After that, we needed to get the website together so all the personalised data could be gathered online ready for producing every personalised video. The technology was improved to automate the ordering process.
The journey was arduous. Programming challenges were immense but with a time investment equivalent to over £500,000 over the years and a licence from the Microsoft Corporation to use their virtual agent technology, we made it.
If you're committed there's always a way
It was an immediate success. In 2002 it won an airing on national TV. People held our cartoon snail racing race nights all over the UK and then it spread to Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada and Ireland. After that, it went global with events popping up throughout the ex-pat communities in Africa and Western Europe.
In 2010 we were invited to produce a version suitable for audiences in Mecca’s Bingo Game halls. Unfortunately, here it was a victim of its own success Quite simply it was too popular. Each time the cartoon snail racing began everyone stopped playing their bingo games and raced along the corridors to get a seat to watch. Now it is used by pubs, clubs and schools, as a staple fundraiser year after year and is also used for entertainment at parties and social evenings.
Cartoon Snail Racing for every age group
Our cartoon snail racing was initially designed for play in public houses and had a slightly bawdy content. But very soon we adapted the backdrops – interview sets and descriptions and races to introduce age group classifications. It then became popular in schools and churches. By the way if you want to raise £1500 in one and a half hours whilst you have a checklist and easy set of tools at hand as you do it then go here to get our free 8-step recipe report.
We started by putting the animated snail racing videos on VHS, then moved to DVD race nights and now we have switched to streaming video and race night downloads. Gone are the previous low-quality DVD race nights and in came our High Definition - HD race nights in widescreen. Our cartoon snails are now the fastest on planet Earth! They now travel at the speed of light to global destinations over the internet- cutting out wasteful fuel costs for shipping. Packs like our Cartoon Snail Race Night can be ordered easily online and then accessed straight from your customer account.
The best way to predict your future is to create it
I am very proud of our achievements. Our relentless drive for innovation over the past two decades has left our competitors struggling. Some charlatans have even made illegal cheap copies of our racing product and tried to trick people into think they were us, others lag way behind with technology. Some even still provide horse race videos on 16 mm film and old VHS tapes. But watch this space there's more exciting developments to come!
Start planning your cartoon snail racing race night now. There's a whole range of cartoon snail racing race nights to choose from on our site. We also have a ton of useful stuff for planning your event. There's even a list of funny horse and snail names for you to see . . . and hear!