Bed racing championship grows in second year

The Williams Fire Department's bed racing team prepares for the competition on Sunday morning.

The event still has a way to go before it reaches the same level of popularity it had in the 1980s, but the bed races in Williams, which returned to the city last year after a prolonged hiatus, are following an upward trajectory.

“I think it’s definitely getting better,” said organizer Ben Padilla. “Every year, we are hoping it continues to get bigger.”

A total of nine teams competed in the races this year – dubbed the Northern California Bed Racing Championship by Padilla – and organizers estimated that more than 300 people attended the event on Sunday morning. 

“There were a couple hundred spectators, for sure,” Padilla said. “There were between 50 and 60 racers, alone. With vendors and the kids and stuff, I’d say there were at least 300 people there. I was hoping we would get to 500, but I don’t think we had quite that many.”

Williams Mayor Charles Bergson agreed that the turnout this year was great.

“There are about twice the teams this year that there were last year,” Bergson said on Sunday morning before the first heat began. 

Despite a larger field of competitors this time around, last year’s champions – a team comprised of Colusa County residents Gerardo Ruiz, Gonzalo Hernandez, Salvador Lara, and Salvador Lara Jr. – were the fastest again this year. Going by the team name “Los Tomateros,” they also won the award for the best costumes and bed decorations this year, as one of a few teams who dressed up like characters from “The Purge.” They unseated the team made up of Tony Barajas, Abraham Velazquez, Jose Velazquez, Jesse Velazquez, and Emma Velazquez, who won last year’s trophy for the best costume, dressed as characters from “The Exorcist.” This year, the Velazquez team entered as “Team Mario Kart,” and had team members dressed as Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, Princess Peach, and Bowser. 

When all was said and done, Padilla said that he was happy with the way things went.

“I’m definitely super excited about how well it went, how smooth it ran,” Padilla said. “Even though we had a couple teams who had their beds come apart, we were able to roll with it. People were just out there just having a good time, and that’s what we want: for the community to get involved and to have fun.”

While Padilla said that he was happy with the turnout on Sunday, he also said he believes there is still room for the event to grow.

“Next year, or maybe the year after, I’m hoping we can get it to 16 teams, so we can do a 16-team field, where you can have a championship and consolation bracket,” Padilla said. 

He added that he hoped to draw a bigger crowd, too, and hoped the event would ultimately draw spectators and competitors to Williams from around the north state. 

“That’s why we named it the Northern California Bed Racing Championship,” Padilla explained. “I researched that a couple of years ago and learned it didn’t exist… I’m trying to get other small cities from Northern California – basically from Woodland to Redding – to try to come and put some beds in the race.”

In addition to the bed races themselves, Saturday’s festivities in Williams also featured food vendors, children’s activities, as well as a “Trunk-or-Treat” event, hosted by the Williams Upper Elementary Parent Teacher Organization. Michelle Jorge, a reading specialist at the Upper Elementary School who decorated her trunk as the ofrenda from Disney’s “Coco,” received the award for the best-decorated trunk. ■

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.