Caskets Will Fly Down Flag Pole Hill on Saturday Afternoon

You don't have to be a member of the club to race a homemade coffin Saturday; just make sure to read the rules.
You don't have to be a member of the club to race a homemade coffin Saturday; just make sure to read the rules.
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

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.

“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.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.