It’s all downhill from here: downhill racer, that is [COLUMN]

Published 1:13 pm Thursday, January 23, 2014

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

I have many great goals in this life. One of which is to win a Pulitzer Prize. Another is to one day when I’m old, own my own bait shop. But the one I feel like discussing at the moment is my desire to see the sport of downhill cart racing come to Shelby County.
I don’t mean one of those high-priced, professional downhill racers you see on TV, I mean the old-school hand-built, hope-the-wheels-don’t-go-flat-on-this-bad-boy downhill car.

Everyone has built one, or at least attempted build one, in their lifetime. I remember trying to put one together. My buddy Zach took on the big hill near our houses in it. The man was fearless as he held the plastic wheel tight going down the slope, gleam in his eye and teeth grit as he got up to the blazing speed of 20 MPH.

Seriously, it could be an opportunity for the whole family to get together and work on something. There are places in the country that have races for adults as well as kids. Have a set of developed rules to ensure safety, a medical crew on hand and a net similar to what you find on backstops at ballparks or hockey rinks to catch any cars that get away.

Divide the cars into categories based on age and have a standard set of rules that each cart must follow, and inspectors that check the cars before each run. For example, anyone who thinks it’s a great idea to not include brakes on their car gets tossed from the event. Safety first, winning second.

I’d encourage creativity. We have so many great artists in Shelby County, I’d love to see what kind of zany creations would show up at a thing like this. Heck, you might even give away a prize for best looking car. Obviously trophies to winners in the classes, but it’d be cool to have other awards like “Most Outrageous,” “Most Inventive,” and “Most Likely to Cost Less than the Trophy.”

Now, I don’t have the means to do this, nor the time or ability, but I think anything that encouraged creativity and the chances for folks to work together is a cool concept.