When we think of auto racing, we may think of the Monaco Grand Prix, or the 24 Hours of Le Mans, or more likely, as a Phoenix Arizona resident, you may conjure up images of the Valley’s Nascar Events. While these events are exciting and enjoy a colorful history, they tend to favor the professional, the one who was bred for racing from the cradle. Many of us are more interested in participatory sports as opposed to spectatorship, or we may just be looking for an unusual form of motor racing that draws a more diverse and festival like crowd. Here are a few unusual auto races that take place across the US.
4.Red Bull Soap Box Race: This race is an old fashion soap box derby, meets art exhibit, meets performance art, meets lots of caffeine. Some of these cars may be in the shape of an old Greek ship, a grand piano, ear of corn, or possibly something a bit more abstract. Much ado is made of the showmanship, and prizes are handed out for various aspects of artistry, performance, and engineering. This takes place in September in Los Angeles, CA (a short drive from Phoenix Arizona).
3. California Mille: Loosely based on an old Italian endurance race similar to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this is a California endurance race with a twist. Cars running the California Mille wind their way in a 1,000 mile labyrinth through California wine country, pausing for regulation stops at historic hotels and distinct wineries. This race also comes with a competing parody where participants race in pre-1975 race and touring cars with designated stops at various pubs, breweries, and motels. Either way, you should make sure to have a designated driver for this one. Takes place in late April.
2. 24 Hours of LeMons: Thats not Le Mans, but LEMONS. Thats right, this is a race for clunkers, more clunkers, and nothing but clunkers. If Judges find out that more than $500 was spent on a vehicle, for any reason, then the driver is docked 1 lap for every $10 over the $500 mark. During the race the participants vote on one car to be demolished. This keeps anyone from bringing anything but a true clunker. There are various other activities and prizes/events that are an odd mish-mash of extreme drag racing, monster truck rally, and post-apocalyptic madness. Events take place regionally throughout the year.
1. Gumball 3000: This is the mother of all unusual and quasi-legal auto races on the planet. Originally started as the Cannonball Run, an actual race between NYC and Redondo Beach in California, this event took place several times during the 1970s. The event went on to inspire a Burt Reynolds film, and much later, the Gumball 3000. The route is generally a bit more unusual than a simple cross continent trail. Last year, for example, the race started in London, wove its way through the European continent, up to Scandinavia, and then somehow ended in New York. While this years race starts in London and Ends in Istanbul, the course has and will follow the original coast to coast route from NYC to LA, so Phoenix Arizona residents will get a chance to catch some of the action soon.