Hansville Coaster Games prepares to roll

Chuck Strahm stands with Michael Galloway’s coaster car. Strahm and Michael built the coaster together as part of a new volunteer program to help kids build their own coasters.  - Kipp Robertson/ Herald
Chuck Strahm stands with Michael Galloway’s coaster car. Strahm and Michael built the coaster together as part of a new volunteer program to help kids build their own coasters.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson/ Herald

HANSVILLE — Michael Galloway’s first coaster car is the epitome of the sport.

With its soap box derby wheels, black paint, two stripes painted up the middle and the number 24 painted in red on the sides, Michael’s car is ready for the hill on Benchmark Avenue in Hansville.

There’s a funny story behind Michael’s choice of race number.

Michael’s sister’s boyfriend races Camaros and Mazda Miatas and wanted to race under the same number as his favorite racer, Jeff Gordon, No. 24. A different racing number was chosen for him. Naturally, Michael painted “24” on his coaster car to rub it in.

“I picked it because he can’t have it,” Michael said.

With his subtle way of teasing, Michael should fit right in at the second Hansville Coaster Games on Aug. 27. The races, developed by Chuck “Captain Coaster” Strahm and presented by the Greater Hansville Community Center, will be held on Benchmark Avenue off of Twin Spits Road. Anyone can sign up and Strahm, who will once again don his Captain Coaster costume, said creativity is encouraged.

“Last year, I was pleasantly surprised to have as many participants as we did,” Strahm said.

Strahm said the races would not happen if not for the sponsors: The Grub Hut in Kingston,  Benchmark Automotive in Kingston, Yank-A-Part in Poulsbo, Hansville Cup of Joy, Hansville Barber Styling, RandiKan, and North Kitsap Metal Recycling.

Twenty-three people participated last year, Strahm said he hopes to see 30 this year, but really won’t know until race day.

It will be Michael’s first time racing. Strahm approached Michael recently, asking him if he wanted to build a car as part of a volunteer car-building program. The program started after kids showed up to the races in 2010 with unsafe cars. Initial interest in a car-building program quieted and Strahm ended up searching for someone interested in building a car.

The car was built with a low budget. Strahm said cars can easily cost a few hundred dollars, or $10. Last year, he put a car together with soap box derby wheels, a bicycle frame and some pieces of scrap steel laying around. In all, it cost about $10, Strahm said.

“It just depends on where you get your parts and what you do with it,” he said. Usually, he added, it takes more time than money to build a car.

Whatever the cost ends up being, racers can expect to speed down Benchmark Avenue at a rate of 20-25 mph, Strahm said.

Michael said he has reached 18 mph on practice runs. That was on a small hill next to his house.

“I’ve driven a go-kart before, but nothing ever like this,” Michael said.

The track has changed slightly and includes an S-curve, opposed to the first track, which had a long, right-hand turn.

Rules have changed as well. The biggest change: racers are no longer allowed to add weight before a race.

“Last year, people were trying to get their cars heavier,” Strahm said. “Some people were holding concrete blocks with them as they went down.”

Other racing rules include not making contact with other cars during a race, and no helpful push at the starting line.

How racers react with the crowd is a different story. Noise makers, shouting, and spraying the crowd with water is allowed. So far, Strahm said nobody has mounted a squirt gun to their car.



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