Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
CLEARFIELD — Spectators line both sides of the raceway while War's "Low Rider" blasts from the speakers. Riders mount their go-carts for photos with their pit crews and pushers. Small crowds of groupies surround the go-carts.
The team from Smith's Optics has built a tank with a working cannon that fires T-shirts into the crowd. Superior Air Handling's dune buggy-style go-cart features a ductwork frame. Aerospace Support Technologies' roadster catches plenty of eyes, as does ATK's cart, which looks like a rocket car. The IRS-Ogden team's car says "Pay up" on its back side.
Within minutes, the eight carts and riders were summoned to the starting line for four quarterfinal heats.
At the word "go" from KUTV Channel 2 meteorologist Sterling Poulson, carts raced two at a time, pushed by employees from each cart's sponsoring business. At the finish line, 150 feet down the driveway, stood judges with checkered flags.
The IRS was eliminated from competition in the first heat.
"Just like the IRS, always coming up from behind," Poulson quipped. And then with some contrition, he added, "I'm probably going to get audited now."
At the end of the final heat, probably the closest race, Hark'n Technologies/Stroops beat Horizon Credit Union for the championship of the second annual pallet races held by Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center (PARC).
PARC had such success with last year's races, in which sponsoring businesses may build a go-cart with a pallet as its base, that it brought them back for 2010, said PARC CEO Robert Daniels.
The races happen in conjunction with PARC's annual awards ceremony for its clients, who have disabilities.
PARC was founded in February 1974 with Daniels as its CEO and served 12 clients, he said. In the fiscal year that ended this June, PARC served 788 clients who get job training and land work at employers such as Hill Air Force Base, Tooele Army Depot, Deseret Chemical Depot, IRS and others.
In the past year, PARC clients earned a combined $7 million, Daniels said.
"We've always been employing and training people with disabilities," he said.
For the past eight years, Daniels said, PARC staff has come up with different themes for the annual celebration. But when they came up with pallet races, the idea stuck, and next year's event is being planned.
Jennifer Tremea, 24, of Clinton, was the driver of Clearfield City's entry. It was a good ride, she said.
"It was a little bumpy," she added, because she was sitting on a wooden pallet. Her pushers did a good job, whisking her down the speedway, she said. And she didn't feel the need for brakes; her pushers took care of that.
You might bet that Daniels didn't realize he has starting training a new generation of race drivers, as well.