Heritage Park coffin race digs up lively competition | RecordCourier.com

Heritage Park coffin race digs up lively competition

by Sarah Hauck
The Douglas County Sherrif's 'Coffin Crusaders' team races the American Legion 'Freedom Fighters' team during Main Street Gardnerville's First Annual Slaughterhouse Lane Coffin Races Saturday in Heritage Park.
Brad Coman |

Skeletons are usually seen inside coffins, but that wasn’t the case for the first annual coffin races Saturday at Heritage Park.

More than a dozen teams competed for the first trophy and ultimate bragging rights, with Joey’s Jammin’ Jamakin Bobsled Team sponsored by Big Daddy’s Bike, Ski and Board and Rocket Fizz Lake Tahoe the winners.

“We knew this was going to be a learning experience,” Main Street Gardnerville Program Manager Paula Lochridge said of the first event. “We had no idea what to expect from the community in terms of if they would like it, but we are really excited about making it bigger and better next year.”

Teams consisted of five people; four pushing the coffin, and one driving.

Nonprofits such as Family Support Council raced alongside businesses and even public figures.

“We had businesses and the sheriff’s office, who were the Coffin Crusaders, and one of my favorites was Doug Johnson’s team. Because this is his final term as a commissioner, his team name was ‘Termed Out,’” Lochridge said.

Although the event was a success, the event almost didn’t see the dropping of the starting flag.

“What was so funny was that we had a deadline date for registration of Oct. 1 and by that time we only had one actual team registered,” she said. “We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to cancel in case we didn’t get enough teams to compete, and suddenly we got 13 teams registered.”

Lochridge said spectators got to watch more than a dozen races between teams before they were broken up into a finalist bracket.

By the end of the day, the finalists had run five or six trips down the 250-foot track in record heat.

“I heard the final heat was a very close call,” Lochridge said of the battle for first between the sheriff’s office and the bobsled team. “We had rules in place in case something like that happened, and were going to run another race, but the sheriff’s office had an injury and decided to bow out.”

Some teams have already started work on next year’s coffins, but will see a few tweaks to the rules.

Adding vendors and more things to do between races will hopefully be added as well Lochridge said.

“The things I enjoyed the most besides all the families that came to watch, were the adults pretty much acting like kids and having fun. They were all in costume and when you asked them to pose for a photo the grimaces on their faces were just great.”