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The Carrera Autopodistica is an annual human-powered land vehicle racing competition that takes place in September in Castel San Pietro Terme near Bologna, Italy. The vehicles involved are unique, velomobile-like cars guided by a pilot and propelled by "spingitori", or pushing men.
The race is the central happening of Settembre Castellano, a series of cultural, sports, and gastronomic events, which have their climax every year on the second Sunday of September with the Sagra Castellana della Braciola (the sheep chop fair), which has been running since 1951. The Carrera Autopodistica has been running since 1953.
Over the last half-century, technological and sporting innovations have improved race performances. Teams work the whole year to build sophisticated cars, improving smoothness on downhill roads and flat ground and decreasing vehicle weight for the athletes who take turns pushing the cars.
There are two competitions on one day. The Coppa Terme, spanning a distance of 1,600 metres, starts at the beginning of Viale delle Terme and ends at the entrance of the spa building. The Carrera Autopodistica is the main event, taking place historical town center. The start and finish lines are located in Piazza XX Settembre. The race covers a distance of 1,250 metres and is repeated twice.
Four pushing men ("spingitori") and a pilot driving the car take part in the races. The pushing men take turns in pushing the car, switching off in a relay race. The competition rules allow only one person to push the car at a time. On downhill roads ("la bassa"), where the car runs faster than its pusher, the pusher gets in the car behind the driver and then resumes pushing when the car speed reduces.
The programme traditionally schedules the time trials on the first Sunday of September, which decide the starting grid. On the second Sunday of September, the Coppa Terme and Carrera Autopodistica races take place.