Cockroach racing

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Cockroach racing, the racing of cockroaches, is a club gambling activity which started in 1982 at the Story Bridge Hotel in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The event is held on 26 January, Australia Day, and is given the title "Australia Day Cockroach Races". This type of racing has spread to many parts of the world including the United States.[1][2] In North America, cockroach racing has recently become a popular feature for money, prizes, or just for its entertainment value. It is held in exhibitions promoting entomology where the public and entomologists participate.[3]

In the first ever event held in 1982, the winning cockroach was called 'Soft Cocky'. Cockroaches are brought to the races by the participants but the roach could also be bought at the venue of the races. The preferred option is, however, to bring one's own cockroaches, from the stable. The proceeds of the event are given away to charity.[1][2]

Racing[edit]

Cockroach racing at Lost Vegas.

The background to the starting of this race in Australia in 1982 is attributed to two bar buffs who boasted that the cockroaches of their area were the fastest in Brisbane. They tested the validity of their claims in a parking lot.[4]

The racing event in Australia generates a feverish pitch and the event held annually is given the hyperbole as "the greatest gathering of thoroughbred cockroaches in the world".[4] Every year, seven such events are held in Australia, which are known as the sprint, the steeple chase and main event held at the Story Bridge Hotel called the Gold Cup event.[4] The race arena is 6 metres (20 ft) ring. The roaches kept in glass bottles are let out in the middle of the ring. The cockroach which reaches the edge of the ring first is declared a winner.[4] There is an entry fee to participate in the event. The winners listed so far in the Hall of Fame of this Australian event are unusual names such as "Soft Cocky, Cocky Balboa, Cocky Dundee, Drain Lover, and Priscila-Queen of the Drains".[4]

Cockroaches are known for their fast speed of movement, as next only to the speed of tiger beetle. It generates a speed of 50 body lengths per second which in a sprinter’s language is of the order of 200 mph or equivalent to completing a 100 m sprint in 1 second.[5]

In the United States[edit]

Female Madagascar hissing cockroach

The racing of cockroaches as a club gambling activity started in Australia in 1982.[1] However, at the Loyola University Maryland, the event of cockroach racing is called "Madagascar Madness: The Running of the Roaches."[6] The students of General Etymology wing of the university train Madagascar Cockroaches for short sprints as also for marathon racing. The race generates lot of interest and large number of people gather to witness the event.[6]

In the United States, the cockroach race is also a popular event held prior to the Presidential election. It is conducted every four years by the Pest Control Association of New Jersey. The race predicts the Democrat candidate for the presidential election; in 1999, Al Gore won over Bill Bradley and Bill Clinton “won by an antenna,” in 1992.[7]

In June 2012, in New Jersey, the namesake cockroaches of Barack Obama and John McCain were raced to find the winner in the race held at the Toms River Rotary Club. It was held under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Central Ocean Tom River’s Bugfest. The event generated US $ 1500, which was donated towards providing scholarship to local students.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1926 Soviet Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov wrote his play Flight which contains detailed description of the cockroach racing.

The 1995 film “Race the Sun” which dramatized the international competition of a solar powered race car event, it had an entry from Hawaii, which was named as "Coackroach"; it is said that the design of the race car was inspired by the cockroach running across the room. The boy who designed the race car modeled it to resemble a cockroach with intent to "capture the organic, aerodynamic shape that first inspired cockroach racing. This eventually resulted in creation of robo-roaches.[7]

In the episode "Ellie" of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", broadcast in May 2002, Gil Grissom, an entomologist, is the chief investigator. However, instead of participating in solving the murder he pursues his chief interest in cockroach racing by taking a jar full of Madagascar cockroaches to a conference with intent to win the gold medal for his cockroach. When the murder mystery had been resolved in the TV episode, he comes back on the screen with a sullen face announcing that his roaches could win only the second, third and fifth place in the race.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Paul Connolly (2011). The World's Weirdest Sports. Pier 9. pp. 65–. ISBN 978-1-74266-513-9. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Justine Vaisutis (15 September 2010). Australia 15. Lonely Planet. pp. 315–. ISBN 978-1-74220-310-2. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  3. ^ American Entomologist. Entomological Society of America. 2004. p. 130. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Dave Freeman; Neil Teplica; Jennifer Coonce (1999). 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Travel Events You Just Can't Miss. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 212–. ISBN 978-0-87833-243-4. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Thomas W. Rowland (2011). The Athlete's Clock: How Biology and Time Affect Sport Performance. Human Kinetics 10%. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-1-4504-1108-0. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Cockroach Racing". Loyola University Maryland. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Marion Copeland (2003). Cockroach. Reaktion Books. pp. 64–. ISBN 978-1-86189-192-1. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Rotary International (November 2008). The Rotarian. Rotary International. pp. 14–. ISSN 0035-838X. Retrieved 29 March 2013.