By Ryan Craighead
Energetic LBCC students, hand-made pushcarts, four-foot ramps, hay bales and sweeping turns created a festive, competitive atmosphere at the 38th annual Mini Grand Prix in the LAC Quad on Thursday, April 18.
The Men of Aztlan successfully defended their title as both men’s teams faced off in a final race. The Golden Beasts defeated the Golden Men twice in a row, earning an award for the fastest lap time of 27.63 seconds.
Aztlan entered a women’s team, the Flying Sparkles, which defeated the White Wolves of Isis in two heats to earn Aztlan the sweep.
At the end of the women’s final, the entire Aztlan club circled near the finish line to chant in celebration and lift Bryan Berkley, Golden Beast team member, on the group’s shoulders.
Before the race, the royal court was announced with Angel Vasquez and Michelle Vargas earning king and queen honors. It was announced that a dual election of king and queen has not happened in the Mini Grand Prix’s 38-year history.
The Quad was full of activity with music, employees and students. The event is a double-elimination competition and features a hay bale-lined course roped off with black-and-red flags, beginning with a ramp equipped with a lift-gate toward the northwest end of the Quad. The two-lane course went over a ramp and looped right, connecting a left loop before a home stretch straightaway, ending near the announcer and DJ booth at the southeast corner
Three designated switch areas provided an additional challenge for the racers and added enjoyment for spectators. Racers tumbling head-over-heels resulting from well-paced hay bales was a theme that continued beyond the finish line, as the finish line was only 15 feet in front of a light pole protected with hay bales that proved an ineffective method for halting racers. Several times, competitors went through or over the hay bales onto the concrete surrounding the grass.
Vivian Lauwers, 23, a child development major, said, “I was on my way to the Library but stopped to watch the race. It looks like a lot of fun, but those hay bales [behind the finish line] don’t seem to be doing anything.”
Scraped knees, bruises, twisted ankles and strained hamstrings are accepted by-products of the event.
Berkley said, “Nothing but minor scratches.”
The final race included the Golden Men from Aztlan calling on alternate Nate Padilla to replace an injured Jaime Reyes, who said he strained his hamstring on a crash.
Mini Grand Prix awards were distributed after the race. The Mario Andretti award for the best team uniform and spirit went to Isis for the women and Aztlan for the men. Aztlan also won best cart design. Isis won the women’s fastest lap with a White Wolves’ time of 31.77 seconds.