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Coasting down Benchmark Avenue | Kipp's Corner

The Super Bee isn't exactly what you would call a luxury car. The Bee is a few feet tall and less than 6 feet long. It's made mostly of wood and, in the sun, becomes uncomfortably warm inside.

The car is, however, the car of reigning Hansville Coaster Games champion Lou Krukar. The Super Bee is also the first coaster car I have raced.

I was offered the chance to try my hand at coaster racing in mid-July. Chuck "Captain Coaster" Strahm sent me an email, extending an invitation for this Herald reporter to race in this year's games. The third annual games begin at 2 p.m. Saturday on Hansville’s Benchmark Avenue.

How could I refuse?

When Strahm first extended an invitation for me to race in the games, I planned to build my own car. I have talked to the captain of coaster fun enough to know building a car is fairly cheap, but my plan never came to fruition.

Luckily, the Super Bee was still available.

And so, on Monday morning, I stood at the top of the Coaster Games track on Benchmark with Captain Coaster himself, preparing for my first run down the track.

The Super Bee is like a small wooden cockpit. Actually, it is a wooden cockpit. With a small steering wheel and surprisingly comfortable seat, it's a smoothish ride. The lid on the top of the coaster completes the aesthetics of one of the fastest coaster cars to race Benchmark.

The track starts on a slope, weaving to the finish line through an S-curve.

My first run down the track was fast but, as Strahm pointed out, I broke the rules when I cut across both racing lanes. Coaster races pit two racers head-to-head, which means no cutting.

My second run down Benchmark was much more successful.

Cruising down Benchmark mere inches from the pavement was a blast. At the end of my run, Strahm asked me how quickly I thought I was going.

My answer: "About 15 mph." His response: "Closer to 30 mph."

Thirty miles per hour in a wooden car with a single break … more fun than a spectator can imagine.

Talking with Strahm, I found out the Bee has a reputation of being the car to beat. Of course, it was more the driver than the car that became a rival of other coaster participants.

The feud will carry on with the Super Bee, even though its builder will no longer race in it. Who better to carry it on than a reporter who enjoys an outdoor adventure?

The games begin at 2 p.m. Benchmark Avenue is located off NW Twin Spits Road. The road is normally barricaded, but Strahm gets permission from the county to use it once per year for the games.

An addition to this year's games is a digital timer, from which the exact time of each racer will be recorded.

Also new this year is the "King of the Hill" award. The person with the fastest time overall will earn the bragging rights.

As in previous years, awards will be provided for the fastest three competitors in each class. Each racer will receive a Hansville Coasters T-shirt and participate in the awards ceremony, which will be held on Benchmark instead of the community center.

Cost is $15 to enter.

If you plan to enter the coaster games, I look forward to meeting you on the track. If you didn't plan to enter, come out and watch a reporter get creamed.

For more information on the Hansville Coaster Games, visit www.hansville.org.

 

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