Wacky races come to a halt

Great Yarmouth's wackiest races have come to an abrupt halt - ending a packed programme of hamster handicaps.For a thorough-bred Boston-born team of rodents was stolen from a high-security briefcase on Saturday night following a successful meet at the Tramways Pub in Gorleston.

Great Yarmouth's wackiest races have come to an abrupt halt - ending a packed programme of hamster handicaps.

For a thorough-bred Boston-born team of rodents was stolen from a high-security briefcase on Saturday night following a successful meet at the Tramways Pub in Gorleston.

Their owner/trainer Adam Lawes said the theft came just as he was poised to expand the sport, adding new rodent-based versions with prototype sumo squirrels already in training.

He stressed the 24 hamsters although life-like and furry were actually battery operated toys who scurry round a four-lane figure-of-eight track.

Graphic designer and model maker Mr Lawes, 42, from Bradwell, said the games started with a gift of a toy hamster in a plastic globe for his daughter around five years ago. When set free he realised it would be fun to race them and hit on the pub game idea.

Since then he has built up an avid following of enthusiasts who remember their favourites by name and like a flutter on Nippy Norman and Bouncy Bob among others, often benefitting local good causes.

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Mr Lawes said: “Unfortunately after a Saturday night race in a Gorleston pub the team was stolen. The team travels under high security in a brown Samsonite briefcase with fake handcuffs. This case was taken from my car which was parked on Selwyn Road, Gorleston, on the Magdalen Estate in the early hours of Sunday morning between 2am and 9am. The theft has been reported to the police and they are on the case.

“The hamsters are of no use to anyone else and may have been dumped. I really do need to have them back as I have races coming up soon. I have started a poster campaign all around the nearby roads in Gorleston and am getting them displayed in all the local pubs and shops. I have just stopped short of driving up and down the roads with loudspeakers on the roof of the car.”

Replacing the team he said was no simple matter with the hamsters having to be imported from Boston, USA, adapted and trained.

The stolen squad consists of 19 racing hamsters and eight baby novices. The races are run as a sweepstake with championship races, qualifiers, semi finals and finals. Battle commences in one of the races when cheap batteries are put in each hamster and the winner is the last one to run out of power.

The website www.electrichamsterracing.com and the Design26 phone lines have been given over to the search. A reward is offered for their safe return. Call Mr Lawes on 01493 853196 or adam@design26.co.uk