It's funny that they call it the World Famous Pumpkin Race, because although it's been happening annually three blocks from my parents' house (where I grew up) since 1990, I had no idea it existed until a year ago. How had I lived here fore 8 years completely oblivious?
We went to see the race yesterday. Manhattan Beach is blessed (by geologic forces) with steep hills that meet up with the beach, so that virtually every house for a couple blocks in gets a view. It is on these hills the pumpkins are raced. Two tracks are outlined with hay bales on the main street heading to the pier. Kids stand in line with their decorated pumpkins on rollerblade wheels (with two independent axles inserted into the pumpkin, no pre-fabricated chassis allowed), and three or five pumpkins race at a time. Referees stand at the bottom of the track with cushions to catch the winning pumpkins. They smash cheaters (watermelons with paint can sometimes pass for a pumpkin, but go faster because of greater density and increased momentum).
It's a big deal. Fun for the whole family. And it's fun to watch.