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Chivichana: typical Cuban homemade contraption, much like street karts.
The First Chivichana National Race, sponsored by Red Bull and organized by the National Institute of Sport and Recreation (INDER), took place in August 2010 at Santa Maria Loma. Since 2004, the Austrian maker of power drinks, whose marketing strategy revolves around the sponsorship of ultimate sports, has been sponsoring in Cuba ultimate sports on wheels.
The place was full of people eager to see the creations of the competitors whose chivichanas ranged from very simple to very extravagant. The racers came from all over the country, including the Sierra Maestra, where the mountain locals build a special kind of chivichana, which is more than a pastime or a kid’s game—it works mainly as a means of transportation that facilitates going up and down the hills.
The street was closed all day to make way for anyone who wanted to try out his chivichana from the top of the hill and see who came first to the finish line, easily identifiable from afar thanks to the giant Red Bull inflatable arch. During the race, some took “unavoidable” detours after losing control over their chivichanas. But this did not take away from the spirit of a unique competition, the first of its kind in the world.
The jury considered not only the skill of the drivers, but also the originality of the chivichanas and the functionality of their accessories—interesting accessories, that is, because there was a little of everything, even the skull of an animal attached to the front of one of the karts. It was easy to tell what the drivers were from these appendages: the rock fan, the sportsman, the surfer, the farmer, and so on. Although prizes went to the drivers in this colorful and original competition, there is no doubt that the real protagonists of the race were the chivichanas.