Pumpkin Race History

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The World Famous Pumpkin Race was created in Manhattan Beach on Halloween Eve in 1990 by Karl Rogers, Michael Aaker and John Holliday. They invented the Pumpkin Racer design and developed the Pumpkin Race format for guests attending Karl's birthday party.  

"…the Pumpkin Race embodies traditional American values such as ingenuity, creativity, equality, fairness and diversity."

The fun and quirky event was such a hit with their friends that they insisted that they run the race again the following year, and a new American tradition was born. Now the World Famous Pumpkin Race has become a must-attend annual tradition for thousands of residents in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.

In 2007, with invaluable leadership from Idris Al-Oboudi, Recreation Services Manager in the City of Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Department, the World Famous Pumpkin Race was awarded the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Special Event of the Year award and the California Park and Recreation Society (CPRS) Award of Distinction. Over 8,500 area residents attended the Pumpkin Race in 2008 at its new location on Manhattan Beach Boulevard at the base of the Manhattan Beach Pier.

Over the years, the World Famous Pumpkin Race has become a cherished hometown event that has garnered the attention of several local and national television news networks. It was even featured in an episode of Home Improvement starring Tim Allen. In 2004, Time Warner Cable produced and aired a documentary about the event. The Travel Channel also produced a documentary about the event.

The World Famous Pumpkin Race has rekindled a sense of good old-fashioned family fun for our own families and for hundreds of other families and friends who attend the race each year. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, teens, and younger siblings can all be seen working together as they build their very own Pumpkin RaceCar and then cheer it on to victory. After a loss, families and friends gather to support one another and vow to return the following year with an even better Pumpkin RaceCar!

In addition to enhancing a sense of family and community, the World Famous Pumpkin Race embodies other traditional American values such as ingenuity, creativity, equality, fairness and diversity. People of all ages and abilities enjoy the thrill of participating in the race, the old fashioned family fun, the community spirit that is shared by all who attend. There is a keen spirit of teamwork and competition among the more advanced Pumpkin RaceCar builders that often results in dramatic races that get the crowd roaring. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to enter the race as the event is much more thrilling and light-hearted than it is competitive.

Support and enthusiasm for the World Famous Pumpkin Race has grown beyond our wildest dreams.

We’ll see you at the Pumpkin Races!