Nighttime for the past two weeks has been spent perfecting a race-worthy chariot for many CSU greeks, including Erica Jackson.
“It’s really exciting to actually race them,” said the CSU senior and Delta Xi Nu sorority member in the moments before her creation competed for first against those of other greeks on Sunday evening alongside 1,000 other students, with a Red Bull in hand. “We’ve worked really hard on our chariots.”
Titled the Red Bull Chariot Race, the event kicked off Greek Week –– an annual CSU tradition organized by university officials that usually starts with a barbeque. But this year, in addition to burger roasting, the week was brought in with a Las Vegas-hotel-themed chariot race hosted by Red Bull, during which greeks hauled modified two-wheel carts they built in the styling of places like Caeser’s Palace, the Bellagio and the Paris on closed-off neighborhood streets bordering Shields Street.
In the weeks prior, fraternities and sororities were organized into four teams, each charged with building two chariots to race.
“It was more like good, healthy competition,” said Beau Loendorf, president of the newly established Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. “Being new to greek life, that was really cool to see.”
According to Red Bull employees organizing the event, the company learned of Greek life officials’ plans to host the chariot race and contacted them afterwards with an offer to sponsor it. Red Bull backs events that seem witty, self-mocking, and anti-authority, because that’s how it’d like people to think of its brand.
The company provided railing and hay marking the race’s tracks, passed out free drinks to attendants, hired a DJ, provided prizes to race winners and called in local celebrities to serve as chariot judges.
Denver Bronco linebacker Lonie Paxton, Snowboard Magazine’s 2010 Rider of the Year John Jackson and renowned CSU basketball player Andy Ogide attended as Red Bull’s judges, casually critiquing chariots they came across.
“I heard Greek Week’s a pretty big deal over here,” Jackson said. “And it’s a Red Bull chariot race, man. Who would want to miss that?”
Paxton said he’s been a friend of Red Bull for a long time, and that since football is out of season, getting to know CSU is a great way to spend a Sunday.
“My real name’s Leonidas,” he added. “So I have a real love for the greeks.”
Eight chariots raced to be in the semifinals –– a round that only the top four could advance into. The last race came down to two chariots. First place finishers won a trip to Red Bull’s 1976 Games at Copper Mountain taking place next Sunday with lodging and gas covered. Teams coming in second and third place won cases of Red bull for each member, and a party sponsored by the drink company with things like free beverages and a DJ.
Tyler Lund, a Sigma Chi fraternity member whose Caeser’s Palace–themed chariot took first, said he didn’t know about the prizes until after the race. The CSU junior was in it for the memories.
“You know those moments you get in college that you want to tell your kids about?” he said, describing what it was like to dress up in a toga and run around with a girl in a car seat to win a race. “This was one of those moments.”
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.