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Locals get pumped for Folsom Handcar Derby

By: Laura Newell, Telegraph staff writer
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Racers are getting pumped to race in Folsom?s annual Handcar Derby. The 21st annual Folsom Handcar Derby is set to take place May 19-20 on the tracks in front of Broadstone Marketplace on East Bidwell Street in Folsom. ?The race started in 1991 as a fundraiser to rebuild the historic railroad turntable, which is now the centerpiece of the Folsom Historic Station,? said Bill Anderson, race director and president of Folsom, El Dorado, Sacramento Historical Railroad Association. ?Although we never made enough to restore it, we kept the race as an annual event. It supports the Folsom Railroad Museum as a fundraiser to bring the railroad museum car back.? Anderson said this event is important because Folsom was the first railroad town in the west. ?It?s important to represent and preserve the rich railroad history in the region,? Anderson said. ?The support of the teams is what keeps this going and makes this happen.? Dan Bocinski, 46, of El Dorado Hills, has been racing handcars for 14 years and is now helping to keep the Folsom races alive. ?I got involved in it through a corporate game in 1998 and ever since then, we were hooked,? he said. ?We raced in Sacramento, Truckee and now we want to help preserve the Folsom event.? This year?s Folsom Handcar Derby will kick off on Saturday, May 19, with a day of practice and qualifying for all the teams competing in the handcar and quadripede events, said Bocinski. On Sunday, May 20, the day starts at 9 a.m. with the pushers contest where anyone wanting to try and push the 850 pound handcar for distance can compete. The handcar races will immediately begin after, as each team of five has one shot to be the best in their division and set the fastest time. A handcar team consists of one pusher to get the handcar started from a dead stop and four pumpers to propel it down the tracks. ?I think the intense competition is what draws people to this event every year,? Bocinski said. ?It really keeps people in the gym all year to ensure they can be in shape for that intense 30 seconds.? He said the race is challenging for all ages and levels, because it pushes ones endurance and strength. ?It is very challenging for both strength and endurance,? Bocinski said. ?To get it going that fast, it feels like you just ran a marathon. On this track in Folsom the races are within seconds. It is typical for teams to be within a tenth or a hundredth of a second apart.? There are different divisions including men, women, co-ed and masters who will face off and pump the handcar down the 800-foot track. The final event includes two contestants piloting a racing quadripede down the course. The day ends with the medal awards ceremony for all of the competing divisions. This free family event is for all ages. Train rides are available adjacent to the race course for children. ?I hope we continue to get more support to keep this operating,? Anderson said. ?This is our 21st year. It?s a very unique sport, and I don?t know of another race like this. We are the longest running handcar race event in the country.? All proceeds from the event benefit the Folsom, El Dorado, Sacramento Historical Railroad Association. For more information or to register a team, visit fedshra.org/handcar.html or call (916) 985-6001.