Those traveling on Folsom’s East Bidwell Street this past weekend got a glimpse into yesteryear. Just off the roadway, the historic railway was bussing with activity as the annual Folsom Handcar Derby brought competitors and spectators of all ages.

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Scenes from the 30th Annual Folsom Handcar Derby.

It was the 30th time that the Folsom Handcar Derby took to the local rails. While many came out to take in a bit of history and friendly competition, others came out ready for business as they pushed and pumped their way into contention for the crown of their appropriate division. 

“We’ve now done this for 30 years without anyone getting hurt on the tracks, said Bill Anderson of the Folsom, El Dorado, Sacramento Historical Railroad Association (FEDSHRA). “That has always been our number one priority through the years.” 

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Through scalding hot temperatures to cold rainy days, the annual Folsom Handcar Derby is a local tradition that has survived the tests of time. The event has gone nearly non-stop for the past three decades. It only took a hiatus in 2020-2021 during the pandemic, returning to full action last year. 

A total of 12-pushers completed the roster, along with a total of 10 handcar teams and 11 quadripede teams. To participate in the event, groups for the handcar race must consist of five people – one pusher and four pumpers. 

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Saturday was orientation day. Participants had the opportunity to practice and go over all the safety policies and procedures. All groups were required to complete a full racing pass by the end of the day to be able to join the competition Sunday where things became serious business.

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Sunday’s competition began with the pushers contest where contestants compete against one another in a battle of strength and distance, pushing an 850-pound handcar, similar to activity you see in the strongest men and women competitions.

In Women’s Light Weight class, Suzanne Young took the top honors with a distance of 74-feet.  In the Women’s Middle Weight class, Delana Treadway lead the podium  with a push ov 89 feet, 5 inches over Tiffany Erickson and Lynn Veenstra.

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In the Open Middle Weight class, Matt Rhodes took the crown after pushing 180 pounds a distance of 122 feet and five inches.  Brock Erickson finished in second place. 

The Open Light Heavy Weight class was won by Ken Benedict with push of 213 pounds over 144 feet and nine inches to edge Will Scott for the position. 

The Open Heavy Weight class was claimed by solo participant Rafael Santos who pushed 235 pounds across 175-feet and nine inches. 

The Open Super Heavy Weight class was topped by Andy Gong, who scored the longest overall push of the day consisting of 304 pounds for 189-feet, two inches. Don Patterson was the runner up followed by Art Finch. 

In the popular handcar competition, a total of 55 individuals formed 11 different teams that competed across eight different classes. 

In the Seniors class, the team known as the San Juan Class of 1962 was one of the first handcars to hit the tracks. Teammates Gary Putman, Don Patterson, Dennis McDonald, Brad Donaldson and Sara Shadrick pumped and pushed their way to a time of 42.519 seconds. 

In the Open class, the VSP Blurred Vision Men’s team of Dan Bocinski, Victor Goodwin, Ken Benedict,, Art Finch and Jerome Jeffries took the gold with a 27.591 second run. Team Pump it Like You Stole It, which included Ryan Fox, Mike Scott, Colton Hanson, Mike Mulligen and Hudson Black came in second with a time of 29.626.

In the Women’s class, the VSP Blurred Vision Women team of Carmaine Cotham, Mindy Janski, Pim Cargile, Suzanne O-Young and Delana Treadway hit the finish line with a time of 34.177 second. The Women’s Rookie class Team Hotwheels, which included Delana Treadway, Suzanne O’Young, Makyala Putman, Kirra Putman and Chrissy Putman turned a time of 34.181.

The open Open Rookie class had two teams in the finals, the Steampunks made up of Mike Hight, Michael Major, Chris Shelton, Rafael Santos and Anthony Summers took the glory with a time of 28.360 which was the fastest overall tme of the day. 

Team 21 Crunch Street which included Andy Gong, Alex Thomas, Braden Koscivle, Brianna Bassham and Marissa Zinahlen was second with a time of 27.767.

The Coed class had a solo team in the final runs, VSP Blurred Vision Coed consisted of Dan Bocinski. Carmaine Cotham, Victor Goodwin, Jr., Mindy Janski, Art Finch and turned a time of 27.767. 

The Coed Rookie class had two teams battle it out to the end.  The PSVRR Train Robbers which included Brock Erickson, Tiffany Erickson, Kathy Drew, Orlando Wilkerson and Andrea Bartlett topped the finals with a time of 34.863. The Little Engine That Tried of Matt Rhodes, John Bittermann, Michael Dolim, Lynn Veenstra and Stephanie Rhodes finished second with a time of 36.070. 

In the Open Elite class, Just The Five of Us, including Stan Wilkins, Mike Kelly, Jerome Jeffries, Dan Bocinski and Art Finch pushed to a 28.623 second run. The team has run in every one of the Folsom Handcar Derbies since they began. 

Sunday’s event also included Qaudripede competition, three different classes formed the roster, some of which performed double duty and competed in handcar competition as well. 

The Women’s team known as the Choo Choo Crew included Makyala Putman and Kirra Putman and turned a time of 46.685. this was the only all women team in the quadripede competition. 

In the Coed class, Team Ek3 & D of Bill Kreisel and Delana Treadway took first place with a time of 41.480. Team R&B, which was Brian Epps and Ramona Blain came in second with a time of 47.489. The team called Too Old to Know Better, which was Gary Putman and Sara Shadrick was third with a time of 52.197. 

In the men’s division, the team known as Domino Effect, which was Ken Benedict and Victor Goodwin, Jr. turned the fasted run of the day with a 34.519.  The Big O team of Brock Erickson and Lester Erickson finished second with a time of 40.565.

In addition to the competition Sunday, the FEDSHRA offered historical information booths and activities for youngsters to enjoy, including the chance to take a ride on a read handcar during one ot the event’s breaks. 

The mission of FEDSHRA is to educate the general public by preserving and maintaining railroad history in the City of Folsom, County of El Dorado, County of Sacramento and related connections. Sunday’s event was just one of many different events they organization puts on annually to educate the community and fundraise to continue their efforts. 

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.