This is a past event.

1st Annual Beale Street Big Wheel Relay Race 

When: Sat., Nov. 26, 1-4 p.m. 2011
Price: $100 per team of 4
There’s good news for every grownup between the ages of 20 and death who would love to climb once again behind the molded plastic handlebars of a Big Wheel, if only the low-slung tricycle’s famously adjustable seat (with “handy” saddle bag) had an extra-wide setting.

“Our Big Wheels are adult-sized,” says Christina Wilhite, organizer of the Beale Street Big Wheel Relay Race, which is being billed as a “first annual” event benefiting the Angel Tree Foundation of the Salvation Army.

To understand the big appeal, you’ve got to know the Big Wheel’s deep mythology, summed up neatly in a 1976 television commercial that was played in heavy rotation during Saturday morning cartoons: Three boys in Toughskins jeans (two with bowl haircuts; one with a tidy afro) own the neighborhood sidewalks as they race their red and yellow trikes past a playground full of cheering girls in plaid pants and golden sweater vests. The sole adult presence, a deep, gravely voice in the sky, narrates this scene of reckless post-toddler youth lifted directly from the kid-friendly coves of mid-century suburbia: “Big Wheels are a’rolling, listen to them turn. It’s the Big Wheel sound of power with speed enough to burn! Braking … Winning … Spinning!”

“I loved riding Big Wheels when I was little,” Wilhite says dreamily. “This event is going to be a lot like the Great Wine Race — only instead of people racing with wine, it will be people racing on Big Wheels over an obstacle course, four to a team.”

— Chris Davis

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