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Rain can't dampen spirits at Lynde 500 push-kart race

Spencer Enright, right, pushes his team's kart into a handoff as it begins to lose a wheel and veers into the wrong lane during the eighth annual Lynde 500 Monday, Sept. 6, in downtown Lynden.
Spencer Enright, right, pushes his team's kart into a handoff as it begins to lose a wheel and veers into the wrong lane during the eighth annual Lynde 500 Monday, Sept. 6, in downtown Lynden. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

LYNDEN — Heavy rain and a little bad luck wasn’t enough to hold back the Whatcom County Airsoft League from winning second place in the Lynde 500 push-kart derby Monday, Sept. 6.

The Lynde 500’s main event, which is open to competitors aged 14 and older, is a four-person 300-yard relay race. One person acts as the driver while the three other team members take turns pushing the kart during each leg. The Youth Division, which is open to 12- to14-year-old competitors, is a two-person 100-yard sprint. The Lynde 500 is hosted by the Lynden Pioneer Museum.

Team Airsoft, which won first place in 2009, started this year’s race with “a series of unfortunate events,” said 21-year-old team member Stevie Ekkelkamp. The back of the team’s kart detached from its base during their race against the Dutch Mothers. In their next race against the League of Shadows, Ekkelkamp and the team’s third pusher collided in the final handoff, causing both men to fall to the pavement.

“Even if we don’t win, I think we’ll be the most memorable team,” said 22-year-old team member Caleb Monroe.

Ekkelkamp said his collision was caused by the rain, which made the pavement slippery.

Team Airsoft certainly weren’t the only ones suffering from the wet conditions. Team Enraged Supermen slid off the course during a tight curve and their kart became entangled with a line of black and white flags used to rope off the course. The pusher for Team Port Runners fell to the ground when he gave the kart a final lunge across the finish line; the team lost by inches.

The only team that seemed undeterred by the rain was the Dutch Mothers. The team won first place and the $1,000 prize. Team member Jamie Top, 18, said they planned to donate the money to their youth group at Victory Christian Fellowship.

Top said the trickiest part of the course was the corners.

“The wheels love to fly off there,” Top said. “If you don’t lift off just right, it’s really bad.”

Team member Matt van Voorst, 19, said this was the Dutch Mothers’ fourth win in the Lynde 500. He said part of the team’s strategy for winning was to have the fastest runners push the kart during the longest stretches.

The team’s 14-year-old driver, T.J. O’Brien, said it “felt great” to win and he definitely planned on driving in the next Lynde 500.

“Once you get a handle on it, it’s pretty easy,” he said.

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