Forklift Drag Racing – The New Olympic Sport?

The London Olympics Games in 2012 hype has officially begun: Charlotte, North Carolina hosted the U.S. and Canadian Olympic Trials for Canoe Slalom in April and Saturday afternoon television broadcasts now feature a variety of pre-qualifying competitions. America’s favorite Olympians are taking over television commercials, billboards and apparel. Michael Phelps endorses Subway’s healthy sandwiches as a substantial snack in his training while Shawn Johnson shows off her grace and agility in the latest Cola commercial. London will be the world’s center stage this summer as more than 204 countries and territories cheer on their teams. Even forklift drivers are gearing up for their Olympic Games debut by refueling on Doritos and Funyuns. Huh?

In Dallas, Texas, forklift operators and fellow employees host their own version of the Games: the 200 meter Forklift Drag Race. Using traffic cones as lane lines, drivers rev up their favorite forklift in the warehouse fleet and take off at an impressive 10 miles per hour. Featured on YouTube, Erik’s Hyster “gets whooped by the ol’ Mitsubishi” in the middle of a parking lot. With that kind of endorsement, perhaps the forklift brand should consider sponsorship for the 2020 Olympics games. Forklift companies manufacture both Internal Combustion (IC) and electric forklifts. Because diesel powered forklifts are built for speed and endurance, they are favored over propane or gas forklifts for the drag races.

Organizations such as the Canadian Materials Handling and Distribution Society host annual competitions to promote Dallas forklift safety and proper handling techniques. The CMHDS’s BC Championship Forklift Rally is a driven obstacle course that requires drivers to maneuver cushion tire forklifts and order pickers through tight aisle spaces and around cones, pylons and barrels. Efficiency points, overall completion time and written competency test scores determine the gold medalists in each field.Crashing into the obstacles deducts points from the overall score, but is still a big crowd pleaser.

While forklift drag racing or the Forklift Rally won’t be accepted as an Olympic sport for London 2012, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved two new sports: Tennis Mixed Doubles and Women’s Boxing. London will showcase a total of 26 sports and 39 disciplines throughout its two-week stretch between July 27 and August 12. No matter how exciting forklift drag racing may seem, witnessing Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, break yet another world record for the 100 meter dash is far more entertaining and impressive. Don’t be discouraged, Forklift Racers, keep practicing agile turns around those barrels and maybe your dream for Olympic glory will finally come true.

Amelia J. Bell

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