Saturday morning, cart racers lined up off the downtown square on Broadway in Tyler for the inaugural Billy Cart Race sponsored by ETX Brewing Co.
“You know, we’ve always, since growing up, dreamed of having our own cart derby. So, we thought, ‘Hey, let’s shut down the street and have a cart derby,’” said Aaron Price, operator of The Porch at ETX Brewing. “About a year ago we started planning it, got some kids involved, got some amazing carts involved … we just want to have a little fun.”
That stretch of Broadway Avenue was closed for the races. The rules were simple: no motors in the soap box derby style cars, a five-step push and no other rules.
Tyler Dowdy and Taylor Ball, friends who helped organize the event, came to the races dressed for the occasion in vintage motorcycle helmets, goggles and overalls. They decided to design and race their own cart dubbed “TNT” for “Tyler ‘n’ Taylor.”
“I have been cart racing since today,” laughed Dowdy. “The first year might be a little slow, but the thing is: you start promoting it, you start showing it off more, a lot more people will see it and will be like, ‘That looks like a lot of fun.’”
About 50 people participated. Carts of all different shapes, sizes, designs and materials were permitted to race. Some styles included a transformed rolling barbecue grill, a simple wooden pallet with wheels and a seat, and a cart that replicated a Volkswagen Bug.
“Look how many people came out to come enjoy this. It’s nice having, with ETX and the brewery, everyone wanting to have a good time,” Dowdy said.
Although the cart race was created as an adult event, many children wanted to be involved. Many brought their own carts to participate in the children’s race and received recognition for their involvement and hard work on their carts. First-, second- and third-place trophies were presented to the winners of the adult race.
Dowdy is a graphic artist at Hood Packaging Corp. and designed the colorful labels on the ETX Brewery beer cans. Ball, a personal trainer at Life Changing Fitness, worked with Dowdy on transforming a broken lawnmower into the cart. They used smoke bombs to give an impression of a diesel vehicle and had GoPro cameras on their cart (there are videos on the ETX Brewery Facebook and YouTube page, and TylerPaper.com and the newspaper Facebook page).
They also designed the trophies using leftover lawnmower parts, saying even though they took third, it was rewarding to see the smiles of the kids and adults who won the larger trophies they designed and created for first and second place.
“Next year, it’s going to be even bigger,” Dowdy said. “More and more people are going to want to be a part of this.”