Steve McKee, Cliff Schroeder, Ken Hanneman and Ron Leopold stand behind the "Arthritis Express" vehicle they entered in this year's Red Bull Derby in Dallas Texas.
Steve McKee, Cliff Schroeder, Ken Hanneman and Ron Leopold stand behind the "Arthritis Express" vehicle they entered in this year's Red Bull Derby in Dallas Texas. (Photo submitted)

GLANDORF — Four local men referred to themselves as ‘old geezers’ when they entered a competition that took place in Dallas, Texas. The men took part for a second year in the Red Bull Derby competition held this year in late September.

The competition, held annually in the United States, seeks vehicles that have steering and braking capabilities, but no motor, much like the familiar soap box competitions. Red Bull, an energy drink, uses the international competitions to promote their product.

This year is the second in which local men have taken part in the competition. In 2018 it was held in Cincinnati.

“We placed second last year,” said Glandorf resident Steve McKee. He said they heard it was going to be in Cincinnati, and he and his friends thought it would be a good time. McKee had seen the competition in 2012 when he and his wife Annette were visiting their daughter. That competition was also held in Dallas, Texas.

“When we saw it was in Cincinnati last year, we had to form a team and give it a try,” Mckee said. “We built a John Deere tractor with a sweet honey wagon.”

“Then this year in Dallas it was a no brainer to enter. Two of the Cincinnati team members didn’t want to go to Dallas, so we got Ron Leopold to replace them.” This year’s team included McKee, Cliff Schroeder, Ken Hanneman, and Ron Leopold.

Red Bull held its inaugural Derby in Brussels in 2000. Since then, races have taken place across the globe, from South Africa to Australia. It arrived in the United States in 2006 when the first US race was held in St. Louis.

Judging involves both the time taken to complete the course, as well as the creativity of the soapbox design and the showmanship of a performance at the start of the race.

“We had a short notice to get ready this year,” McKee said. “We found out in July the race was going to be in September, so we had to work quickly to get our vehicle completed.”

McKee said this year’s vehicle was primarily made of aluminum and had moped wheels.

“When I was watching videos from former years, it seemed like the vehicles made from wood would fall apart, and a lot of them had wheels that did not hold up,” McKee said they wanted to build their vehicle to be sturdy.

This year’s theme was a steam engine titled “Arthritis Express.” Their entry stated they would be “thundering down the track in an antique steam engine.”

It went on to say, “We old geezers will leave the competition in a big cloud of black smoke.”

“Most other competitors were much younger, so we played on our 70 average team age with walkers in our skit,” McKee said. “We started our skit using walkers and portraying ourselves as slow old men. Then we drank the Red Bull and were full of energy.

“Even though we have arthritis, creaky joints, thinning hair, pot bellies, and are old enough to be some of our fellow racers’ grandpas, we have many years of experience,” their entry claimed and promised to “LOCOMOTION down the hill to victory!” Hanneman was the driver of the vehicle during the race.

The five judges gave the team three 10’s and two 9’s. McKee said this year’s competition in Dallas had 47 entries. “We placed tenth this year,” he said. “Not quite as good as last year, but we had a good time.”

“Good friends became even better friends during the build and race,” McKee commented.