(ORDO NEWS) — “Popular Mechanics” has repeatedly talked about various technical sports – from the familiar and understandable to the most exotic.
There are also species that you can’t write a whole article about – a note on the strength. But that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. So, we present to your attention five of the craziest car races in the world!
However, not quite automotive and even not always racing in the traditional sense of the word. It’s just that speed competitions are a universal group of disciplines.
You can race absolutely anything – there are no exceptions (at least our imagination is not enough to come up with these exceptions). On lawn mowers? You are welcome! On unicycles? No problem! Or… on bar stools? Certainly!
History does not give an exact answer to the question of who first came up with the idea of installing a high bar stool on a kart chassis and arranging full-fledged races on cars upgraded in this way.
In the 1980s, such competitions began to be held in the United States – in different states and cities, at the amateur level. Today, bar stool races are ubiquitous, there is a professional federation of bar racers, and the tracks range from classic short ovals to muddy rally stages.
The main technical limitation in this discipline is the use of a real bar stool, no stylizations or adaptations. You can build a kart frame to install the seat yourself, but you can buy a ready-made kit kit – there are several companies that produce such things in serial order.
A medium frame for example, the most common model, Mini Choppers Socal’s Transporter is about $400, plus about the same for the engine.
There are two classes in racing – Lakester with open wheels and Streamliner with closed wheels. The diameter of the tires is limited to 25 cm, the minimum height of the chair-seat is 76 cm, and an important rule is that the buttocks should not be lifted from the seat. A real bar patron shouldn’t get up!
Surprisingly, there is a special class for bar stools in Bonneville speed races! The current world speed record is 90.018 km/h; it was installed in 2011 by racer John Lee in an electric chair (!) – a year before, chairs driven by gasoline engines were banned by the rules.
In addition to summer bar races, there are also winter ones – in them bar stools are mounted on the frame of ordinary sleds without an engine, and the race takes place from a high hill.
Under such conditions, the race turns into something like a drag race in a straight line. Famous winter races take place in the town of Somerset, Pennsylvania under the auspices of the Somerset American Legion Post 181 social club.
Pigs and Fords
An even more comical competition is the Pig’n’Ford race, held annually as part of the agricultural fair in Tillamook, Oregon. The fair itself has been held since 1891, and in 1925 the organizers came up with an unusual competition format designed to demonstrate the skills of farmers in handling animals and cars at the same time.
In those years, the cheapest and most common car was the Lizzie Tin, that is, the Ford Model T – and the tradition continues to this day. Races are held on the chassis of the old Fords, deprived of a body. And what rides!
The essence of Pig’n’Ford is quite simple. There is a mud oval and five pilots starting simultaneously from the first and only row. The car was not started before the start, and the pilot was standing next to it. After the signal, you need to run to a special enclosure near the starting line and pull out… a piglet.
With a piglet under their arm, the pilots sit behind the wheel, start up and go through one lap – at the end of it, the piglet needs to be changed. A full race consists of three laps and the standard weight of a piglet must be 9 kg.
The speeds here are low: imagine what it’s like to race through the mud oval in an open Ford T with a squealing pig under your arm. But the audience loves this entertainment, and the farmers themselves are not averse to having fun and revealing their talents.
Cars for Pig’n’Ford are passed down by families from generation to generation; some Fords that started in the first races in 1925 are still on the move and take part in the competition! Among the pilots there are 16-year-olds and even 80-year-old farmers, many start in the race for decades.
Interestingly, the rules do not regulate the form of clothing at all – the riders do not wear helmets, and Bermuda shorts and a T-shirt replace any high-tech overalls with them. However, the rules still exist – in particular, vehicle modifications and differences in the chassis and engine from the original specification are severely limited.
The Tillamook pig race is very popular and attracts many spectators to the fair. The organizers call the competition the world championship – and, perhaps, this championship is no less spectacular than, for example, Formula 1.
Where without a tail!
We have repeatedly written about the various varieties of survival derby – in particular, about racing on 8-shaped tracks. But individual disciplines of such racing are sometimes driven into a frank stupor.
For example, a popular type of survival racing is Trailer Racing, that is, racing cars with trailers. They are held at many county fairs and just in stadiums as separate competitions; well known, for example, the race at the Buchanan County Fair (Iowa).
The main feature of such races is tightness on the track. Typically, races are held on ultra-short mud ovals or figure-of-eights; cars and trailers used in such races must be designed for constant contact and collision.
As in any derby, glass elements are removed from the fireballs, the volume and location of the gas tank are strictly limited, and a safety cage is inserted into the cabin to protect the pilot.
The main difference from the classic survival derby is that it is strictly forbidden to collide with an opponent’s car, for which you are threatened with disqualification. You can only crash into his trailer. If the pilot “loses” the trailer, he must retire.
The requirements for trailers are much stricter than for cars – their dimensions and weight are limited. An open trailer must never be empty. It should be, for example, a boat. Yes, even a giant dinosaur statue – it doesn’t matter. The main thing is to create the necessary visual volume.
Traditionally, the qualification of such races is distinguished by comical rules – a car starts from pole, the contents of the trailer of which is recognized as the most interesting in the “beauty contest” preceding the race.
Soon to school
Races on… school buses are no less spectacular and insane. In the USA, these cars are an element of culture and folklore. They came into use in the 1920s, first in the outback, where there was no public transport, and schools were located at distances of up to 100 km from one another.
Children were collected in one or two schools from entire districts. Now the need for a school bus is not so great (although Central America is still not very densely populated in relation to the coasts), but traditions are traditions – and it is much safer to take children in a group, rather than sending them to schools individually on public transport.
Of course, this specific class could not be left without its own races. And the size and shape of the buses hinted that these races should belong to the derby group – a tight track and a lot of collisions. A classic school bus usually has a bonnet layout and a very long rear overhang, which gives a certain specificity to the control.
Buses with at least 54 seats are usually allowed to race, and the seats cannot be dismantled – they must remain intact. Otherwise, the rules are the same as in traditional derbies, with the removal of glass and plastic that can injure the driver or spectators when they collide with a barrier.
School bus races are usually held as support races before more serious competitions, including stock car touring cars (though not NASCAR, but the less prestigious ARCA Racing series).
In addition to the derby, there are also “pure” schoolbus races – on normal asphalt, without dismantling the glass elements and with a ban on purposeful rams. Even major circuits like Charlotte Motor Speedway host bus races as well as temporary fairgrounds.
Drag races on a sand track are significantly different in terms of handling from the classic races of this type taking place on asphalt.
But unlike other races described in this article, sand drag races have their own federation (more precisely, several associations that control different geographical areas), a centralized championship and complex regulations.
Here you can not buy a cheap wreck and immediately write your name in history. The cost of sand monsters can reach several tens of thousands of dollars.
The sandy one differs from the classic dragster by its relatively high seating position and powerful tractor-type rear wheels.
Sand racing classes differ depending on the competition, but they are similar to the class division of conventional drag racing. The most powerful here is the Top Fuel class – powerful machines with a capacity of 7000 hp. and above, up to 7.5 m long, with a narrow bow protruding forward.
In total, there are more than a dozen different classes – we will not list them all. In terms of entertainment, sand drag racing is more spectacular than usual, although the speed is less here.
First of all, the entertainment is due to a pillar of dust and earth, rising after the fireball. In general, you can race absolutely anything, with virtually no restrictions.
There is no limit. And most importantly, all these races come up with ordinary people. They invite their friends and acquaintances to the idea – and in a few years an excellent technical show grows out of reckless entertainment. Try it and you might not get worse!
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