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Allison Plean: The bottom line of the finish line

Nick Marzano and Allison Plean ride down on a large cardboard record to represent the new underground event company called Local Brigade.
Courtesy Photo

Prep time

It was about 8 p.m. Thursday night when I arrived at the quiet construction site. I was well aware of our forthcoming challenge – making Little Miss Sunshine proud with our replica bus and perfectly prepared costumes at the Cardboard Classic two days later.

It was now or never.

It was time to put together the Volkswagen bus, paint the sides and attach the detail work.



I found my five fellow crewmembers that evening in the kitchen, loading up on lasagna while they tossed around strategies like rolls of Duct Tape. This year, we were prepared for a good, fair race.

We knew only a little about what we were up against. Last year’s Hummer replica mastermind, Jim Fletcher, was creating a “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” racecar. Our friends’ teams were building a toaster, a “Cool Runnings” bobsled and a last-minute taco shell.



We weren’t worried about them. We were more concerned about getting caught using Crisco to grease up the underbelly of the craft.

How would the judges know?

Focused on victory, the construction site soon turned into an assembly line of militant little workers, preparing the craft. Alexis DeLaCruz shouted orders, and I did as she told.

Race day

I woke up to cloudy skies. Oh no.

Cloudy skies equaled a soggy racecourse and getting pelted by painful, icy snowballs.

When we arrived on the sidelines of the Headwall track, it was like a scene on the beach. People were sipping beers in lawn chairs, randomly wrestling each other and playing the harmonica. We eyed one another’s crafts and tactfully quizzed them on their construction strategies. It took Fletcher three weeks to build his replica racecar. That is true ski-town patriotism.

The Cardboard Classic, for some, is the culmination of the ski season. We don’t enter the Cardboard Classic just to win. Local contenders enter for bragging rights.

Every type of person enters this race of craftsmanship, from work cohorts to Girl Scouts. There were more than 75 crafts this year. And every craft’s owner had a sense of pride. Some toasted champagne on the deck of their “S.S. Vail Sucks” houseboat, while others gave competitors the hairy eyeball.

When it came down to race time, we all knew that most of us would not make it all the way down the course; slushy snow doesn’t mix well with wet cardboard.

Both crafts that I raced on buckled or stalled on the course, but it felt like it went by in a whirlwind. The adrenalin, the cheering and the sense of accomplishment reigned all the way down the course.

We may not have taken home any trophies, and we may not have made life easier for Waste Management. But we came together as a team and represented the true pioneer spirit that Steamboat Springs was founded on.

We came. We raced. And then we went to Slopeside.


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