For more than 10 years, a group of goth engineers and vehicle enthusiasts has gathered together to speed down Flag Pole Hill at 30-plus mph, strapped in coffin-shaped boxes fashioned out of plywood and prayers. If that's something you simply have to witness, you can this Saturday at the Dallas Trocars Funeral Car Club’s Casket Races.
The event was created in 2003 as a summer supplement to Halloween for members of the club. Larry Reeves, Trocars' vice president, says most members are haunted house employees. They don't get to goof around during Halloween since it's their busy season, so the casket races are a happy compromise.
Since then, the “Pine Box Derby” has grown into an annual get-together for the whole family, though maybe not your average family. People load up their hearses with picnic essentials and nonalcoholic beverages to make a day out of the event, which has attracted racers from across the U.S.
“In the beginning, it was just a few of us; then it took off like a shot,” Reeves, who calls the event a “gothnic,” says. “We had people come from Missouri with a steel casket racer on top of a Chrysler minivan and Phoenix with an all-aluminum, aircraft-styled, toe-pincher coffin, just to name a few.”
As many as six racers will navigate the twists and turns of the hill, but the event is open to people who aren't members of the club. Anyone can join in the fun as long as their four-wheeled sarcophagi meet the safety specifications. However, event organizer Jeff Brown says it’s not unheard of for the rides to fall apart far before the finish line.
“It can get competitive. Mostly people just want to see if they can make it to the end of the course — think of it as a coffin-themed Flutag,” says Brown, referring to Red Bull’s aeronautical event. “That's also part of the show: seeing a bunch of people, generally in all black, sweat their ass off rolling down a hill in homemade boxes.”
Brown took over the event four years ago after Reeves and Alex Lohmann, club president and owner of Reindeer Manor Halloween Park, stepped back to focus on their businesses. The event took a slight downturn, and a year was skipped in 2012.
Shortly after, Brown stepped in. He and Reeves had been friends since Reeves helped him find a hearse to cruise around in. He says the event is just too fun to let it fall by the wayside.
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“I thought [I’d just try] it again to see if people still wanted to do it,” Brown says. “After that first restart year, I could tell people were very happy to have the race again. Word spread very fast.”
Under Brown, the BYODE, or Bring Your Own Damn Everything, event has grown to its largest point and is adding new racers, spectators and awards to the mix. The event will begin at noon June 10 atop Flag Poll Hill. Multiple entrants per car are allowed and will be given three timed runs down the curved slope, with the fastest time counted.
“Yep, just a bunch of haunt people and hearse lovers enjoying the day out,” Brown says. “It's a great family event with a kind of dark twist.”
Dallas Trocars 2017 Casket Races, 12-5 p.m. Saturday, June 10, Flag Pole Hill Park, 8100 Doran Circle, free. Rules, car specifications and more info can be found on the event’s Facebook page.