One Man’s Rant: Introduction to real racing

I had the competitive spirit when I ran track in the sixth grade, but not enough to qualify for glory. My athletic prowess didn’t lead to any dates. My trophy room featured blank walls and empty display cases. It could be I was in the wrong racing business. I didn’t know there were so many racing options.

Hermit crab racing might have been really popular in the mid-60s in northern Indiana, but unfortunately, the National Crab Racing Association wasn’t around then. Since 1978 its “crab-aletes” have been setting records on the track. The NCRA partners with Florida Marine Research to cultivate the strongest and leanest hermit crabs through an intensive training program that emphasizes discipline and attitude. That’s just great: I have plenty of attitude, but discipline has never been part of my profile.

Only the best “crab-petitors” participate in the annual Hermit Crab Championship Race which is held in Ocean City, New Jersey. Past record setters have included Gray Crab’s Anatomy, Princess Crab and Caboke on the Beach. The winner each year is awarded the King of Klutz plaque and recognition as the fastest crab in the universe. A King Klutz plaque would have been perfect for my trophy wall.

If decapod crustacean track meets aren’t your cup of tea, put on your bib overalls and prepare for the world famous Rototiller Race Championship at the Purple Hull Pea Festival in Emerson, Arkansas. It’s one competitor per 200-foot lane. Referees with stop watches wait at the end of the grueling course to announce the winner of the $500 prize.

I’ve spent plenty of hours on a riding mower over the years, but never once did I think about joining the USLMRA (United States Lawn Mover Racing Association). There are 20 racing chapters around the country, including Arizona! Affiliated with the USLMRA is NASGRASS (North American Society of Grass Racers and Sod Slingers). How can you not want to sign up for this kind of excitement! There are also lawn mower racing associations in England, Australia and Canada.

Since we’re speaking of races international here, you should know of the Kambala, the annual buffalo races in southwestern India. The standard race track is a slushy paddy field and the jockey is a farmer with a whip.

Camel racing is to be expected in countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates where camels can reach short-distance top speeds of 40 miles per hour.

Back here in the southern states, pig racing is a crowd-pleasing event. Porcine racing highlights include Hot Dog Pig Races in the Dundulk Heritage Festival in Maryland which feature pigs and dachshunds. Sue Wee Pig and Ugly Pig Races travel around the country.

A column about racing wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to the august sport of snail racing. Racers are placed at the center of a circle usually with a radius of 13 or 14 inches. The first one to the perimeter of the track is the winner. The world record of 3:02 was set in 2008. This form of athleticism usually doesn’t involved skid marks.

Aiken, South Carolina holds the annual Great American Lobster Race. One hundred of the swiftest lobster contestants compete in a series of heats on their big day.

Breaking News: My wife tells me that the Children’s Summer Program here in town will host Red Worm Speed Sprints and Time Trials at the Chino Valley Library on June 12. This high-drama event is sponsored by the Chino Valley Antelope Garden Club.

To comment on this column, email