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IT'S THE PITTS -- CHARIOTS OF WIRE

by: Lee Pitts

Man has always wanted to go faster, faster, faster. In his quest to speed things up he has attached himself to all sorts of animals including dogs, mules, wolves, horses and, if we can believe the rumors, reindeer. Charles Russell wrote of buffalo that were trained to pull a plow, but only in a North or South direction because they were a little hard to turn. If you started plowing in Texas you'd end up in South Dakota, barring any obstructions, of course.

I've always wanted to have my own team of Clydesdales, Percherons or Belgians to drive, but have been limited to a Mustang and a Pinto. I did try to put a real team together but immediately ran into problems. I only had two horses available, Lady and Gentleman, and neither had ever pulled their weight on the ranch. I didn't have a wagon either. I remedied this problem by hooking up the pair of horses to the rusted out hulk of a Dodge Dart, a forerunner to the American car. When I cracked my whip the dynamic duo moved not an inch. It might have worked if there had been air in the tires and Gentleman hadn't been preoccupied, as always, with activities of a sexual nature.

I forgot all about trying to drive a team until I witnessed a chariot race. For those of you who haven't seen one, these races are going to be bigger than NASCAR some day. The sport already has everything NASCAR has: cheaters, beer and sex, and hey, if people will pay to watch tractor pulling and hog racing then surely chariot racing is going to be a big winner. If ESPN can show a spelling bee and a dart contest on TV and call it sport, then chariot racing will one day have its own channel and bookies will be garnishing the paychecks of cowboys who bet on chariot racing.

Some of you old-timers may remember when chariot racing was last popular, during the Roman Empire. But when the Romans fell so did their sport. But now there are some folks who want to return the sport to its ancient glory and I'm all excited about the prospect. So much so that I'm trying to put a team together to compete in an upcoming World Championship. You've heard of Ben Hur? Well I'm the new Ben Him.

First, I needed a chariot so I used a rusty old supplement barrel and wired it to a four wheeled furniture dolly with baling wire. (I know that chariots normally have only two wheels but I'd never done it before and figured I needed a couple training wheels.)

In trying to field a chariot team I ran into the same problem as before, except now I was now down to one old horse, Gentleman, and he didn't have a competitive bone in his entire arthritic body. But what I did have in large supply were sheep. Naturally, I selected Studly the ram to be my wheel horse. I guarantee that if you wave a feed bucket in front of him he'll go faster than that Dodge Dart ever did. Surprisingly, my second fastest sheep to the feed bunk every morning was a smallish Southdown ewe. Using old marking harnesses, I hooked Studly and the Southdown ewe up to my Chariot of Wire and immediately could tell I had a problem: Due to the size differential of my sheep my chariot pulled to the left worse than Ted Kennedy.

Now, normally chariots hurry along at speeds of 40 miles per hour but initially my sheep chariot approached speeds of only four miles per hour. But once we hit a downhill stretch we accelerated so dramatically that I briefly caught a glimpse of Studly and the Southdown as I passed them.(* No animals were killed in the writing of this column.)

At this point I passed myself coming and going and we were on schedule to break the land speed record. Speaking of break, that's when it dawned on me that I didn't have any! Oh well, at least I was going to die standing up. My runaway chariot was now dragging two sheep, along with other assorted debris that we picked up along the way, and we were all headed straight at five strands of nasty Japanese barbed wire.

If this was NASCAR at this point you could say that we made an unscheduled Pitts stop.

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