U.S. Hand Car Races come back to Truckee | SierraSun.com

U.S. Hand Car Races come back to Truckee

The U.S. National Hand Car Champion-ships will return Sept. 9 and 10 for the 3rd Annual Truckee Railroad Days.

The action will take place on a 1,000-foot course located at the Union Pacific “Balloon Track” just east of State Road 267 at the end of Church Street, east of downtown Truckee.

The competition will begin Saturday with practice runs at 8 a.m. and time trials at 1 p.m. Finals will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Two official handcars built specifically for racing will be supplied by the California State Railroad Museum. There will be docents present.

“It’s nice to have an event that brings the history of Truckee to new people,” said Railroad Days Chairman Alan Harry. “Railroading is part of the essence of Truckee.”

The National Handcar Championships moved to Truckee in 1998 after event organizers realized there wasn’t enough space to host the competition in Old Sacramento.

Truckee Railroad Days, which began in 1997, included a small, local contingent of handcar racers such as Cathy Harry, who supported moving the event to a town rich in railroad history.

“Some folks don’t want to race at high altitude,” said Cathy Harry, “but, frankly, the event brings out the best in people.”

Each hand car team consists of five members, four “pumpers” who propel the car along the track with the (seesaw motion) lever and a fifth member who pushes the handcar at the starting line. The pumpers must keep both feet in contact with the car or the brake at all times. Both hands must be in an overhand grip with knuckles facing forward.

Five divisions comprise the national categories for competition with a separate contest for “pushers.” Teams can consist of all women, all men, mixed gender with at least two women, members age 40 and above, plus teams age 40 and above with at least two women as “pumpers.”

The six pushers contest categories are based on gender and weight. Special commemorative medals will be issued for the top three handcar teams and winner of the pusher’s contest. Each participant will receive a special commemorative shirt.

Cathy Harry expects between 30 and 40 teams to attend the competition.

“There was a group of locals who won the mixed team under 40-year-old last year,” Harry said.

For information on late entries, contact Cathy Harry through the Truckee Railroad Days Hotline at (530) 546-1221.

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