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Fair racers squash the competition

John HartSquashmobiles tear down the track Thursday at the Nevada County Fair.
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An electric car and two hybrid cars are on display at the Nevada County Fair, courtesy of the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District.

One of the hybrids gets 60 miles per gallon. A battery powers the exhaust-free electric car. How can you possibly get more earth-friendly than that?

Gourds and gravity, baby!



Near the car display, about 80 kids and parents gathered Thursday for the annual Squashmobile Races.

Four at a time, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, summer squash and zucchini affixed to wheels rolled and tumbled down sheets of plywood.




Ribbons and buttons went to winners and non-winners in three age groups and three different classes – Formula One, Grand Prix and Super Modified.

There were prizes for the best designs, which explored what can be stuck to a squash. Cocktail umbrellas, action figures, Mickey Mouse, fake lizards and flags were included. Some were spray-painted.

Twelve-year-old Sam Jones of Grass Valley stuck a pair of shishkebab skewers into his yellow spaghetti squash to create eyeglasses.

His brother, 16-year-old Jesse Jones, simply jammed a Hot Wheels into his squash to get it rolling.

“I love it because anybody can do it,” Jesse Jones said. “There should be more people racing squash.”

But can just anybody do it?

There’s a trick, Mike Bernadett of Nevada City said as he carved out a fender and shoved a plastic straw axle into a squash chassis.

“You try to get the axle on as straight as possible so it’s not turning – and rolling straight,” he said as wife Suzanne and sons David, 6, and Ryan, 4, watched.

“You also want to get all four wheels on the ground,” Mike said.

Then Suzanne let out a secret: The family also uses a super lube for the axles.

The event has been going on for several years, and just about everyone walks away a winner, said exhibit director Diane Hawkeswood. Her involvement goes back about four years.

Why squash?

“I don’t know where it came from,” she said.


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