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Heck On Wheels: First Idiotarod Rolls Its Shopping Carts Across Dallas' Potholed Streets

Idiotarod Dallas 2011 began with registration at Tietze Park.
Idiotarod Dallas 2011 began with registration at Tietze Park.
Daniel Rodrigue

In the Saturday afternoon heat, 11 teams of costumed "idiots" mushed their modified and decorated shopping carts across roughly 5 miles of the city's streets as they competed for kitschy, homemade prizes in the first Dallas version of the urban shopping cart race. (Read our preview from Saturday for more Idiotarod history as well as behind-the-scenes details of the planning of Idiotarod Dallas 2011.)

Inspired by Alaska's annual 1,150-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an Idiotarod keeps the mushers and replaces the huskies with four teammates who are attached to a themed grocery cart and driven through city streets.

With the general silliness, celebrated sabotage and themed groups, like the Circle Dirks, The Salad Tossers and the Shiner-inspired pirate ship christened the Spoetzel's Revenge, the whole thing felt a lot like an alcohol-fueled, PG-13 version of Wacky Races with a little extra boob-flashing from the teams now and then.

We were there from start to finish, so keep reading for a recap of the race, and be sure to check out the slideshow we'll have later today.

At a quarter before 1 p.m., the gathering in the parking lot at Tietze Park looked like an average tailgate party. A bunch of dudes in mostly-homemade Mavs gear stood around the bed of a pickup truck holding a mini double-decker grocery cart packed with two coolers of beer and an American flag. "We're the Mavs Maniacs," one teammate said, before another member corrected: "It's The Mavs Parade."

A few beers later, the team official registered as The Circle Dirks.

The Circle Dirks used bolt cutters to sabotage their competitors.
The Circle Dirks used bolt cutters to sabotage their competitors.
Daniel Rodrigue

The next entry to arrive pulled their not-yet-decorated, drugstore-size cart out of a hatchback. Soon the team had their hastily decorated Hawaiian Circus cart competition-ready and entered in the race alongside more elaborately-decorated carts like Spoetzel's Revenge with its detailed sails and hull, mini crow's nest and tentacled sea monster.

While the late entries were being registered and numbered by the judges, an impromptu dance party broke out when team Crowded Dance Floor arrived with their ghetto-blaster-inspired cart pumping out tracks including the Village People's "Y.M.C.A." and of Montreal's "Id Engager," which eventually became the event's soundtrack. Hint for contestants next year: "Bringin' the music" earns extra points with the judges and The Ru Paul Award for Most Fabulous.

While some teams danced and drank, others readied their tools of sabotage-- water balloons, sacks of flour, water guns filled with double-strength Kool-Aid, grocery sacks filled with toast and pasta. Lots of pasta.

"We cooked so much pasta to throw at people," explains one team member of The Salad Tossers, showing off plastic bags and tubs loaded with various noodles.

Spoetzel's Revenge filled water guns before the race.
Spoetzel's Revenge filled water guns before the race.
Catherine Downes

Before the race started, Grand Poobah and chief instigator, Jason Talkington squawked over a bullhorn: "Let me go over the rules before I announce the next checkpoint."

Talkington wore a hot pink fishnet shirt under a wife-beater tank, and as he explained that teams should remember that bribery will get them everywhere and that they "gain points for being ridiculous," a contestant with a water gun squirted the side of Talkington's head at point blank range.

Minutes later, after Talkington announced that Lakewood Theater was the first checkpoint, the 11 teams raced out of Tietze Park, heading south on Skillman Street.

The one rule Idiotarod Dallas organizers were practically dogmatic about was not "leaving any trace," which not-too-coincidentally happens to be one of the Ten Commandments Principals of Burning Man.

The Salad Tossers took to the streets Saturday.
The Salad Tossers took to the streets Saturday.
Catherine Downes

The Circle Dirks cart took a nasty spill at the starting line that left some of their supplies broken on the ground. Judges made sure glass and other dangerous objects were cleaned up before the team took off.

Thankfully, the organizers and judges planned a route with plenty of shade trees, and as teams rattled their way through mostly residential neighborhoods between Lakewood and Lower Greenville, they garnered bewildered looks and laughs from just about everyone the loose parade passed.

The teams checked-in at the Lakewood Theater, where judges instructed them to perform their favorite number from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. A middle-aged couple paused to watch the orchestrated chaos. "If we'd have known about it, we would've been right there with them," LuAnn Bergman said, watching from a safe distance.

The next checkpoint was announced, and the carts rattled west on La Vista Drive toward the Lakewood Landing's parking lot. Organizers passed out bottled waters at each checkpoint, and at each stop participants looked sweatier and messier, showing visible evidence of sabotage such as flour and silly string.

Entrants participated in serious competitions at each stop.
Entrants participated in serious competitions at each stop.
Catherine Downes

The stops, while also allowing for "watering" the teams, allowed time for sabotage and immobilization techniques such as using zip ties or tape to slow down the carts, or, as The Circle Dirks did, taking bolt cutters to another team's wheels. Several cart-less "ninja teams" also showed up to cause mischief.

After leaving Lakewood, the Idiotarod landed at Ships, Barcadia and the parking lot of the old Whole Foods on Lower Greenville before heading back to Tietze Park for the award ceremony.

Hawaiian Circus won the Joey Greco Award for cheating, most likely because team members squirted opponents with drugstore douches. The Salad Tossers took home the Chuck Norris Award for Flagrant Badassery or Most Kick-Ass. The Rick Roll went to Circle Dirks for their over-the-top antics and enthusiasm. However, The Circle Dirks probably deserved the Greco Award for their bolt cutters.

The Larry David went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show team, whose members included a silver-haired cross-dressed couple. Spoetzl's Revenge won The Charlie Sheen Award as the team who "best exemplifies winning."

Most entrants who finished the race won an award. Judges presented the MVP Award to Angel, a blue-haired participant, for being "the really drunk girl who kept showing her boobs."

This girl proved to be the life of the party. See our slideshow later today for more compromising pictures.
This girl proved to be the life of the party. See our slideshow later today for more compromising pictures.
Daniel Rodrigue

And, last but not least, The Anti-Ninja Mystery Award went to, ahem, "The Journalists." It appears that after interviewing the organizers last week, there was some talk that perhaps the interest of "the media" was actually a clever ruse concocted by a nefarious team determined to uncover the route and plans of the race, thereby pulling-off the ultimate sabotage.

Maybe next year.


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