The area between the Promenade Mall escalators and Edwards 15 Cinemas in Temecula was temporarily transformed into a race track for a couple hours, as people participated in an activity quite fitting for Temecula.
People of all ages zoomed down the narrow stretch of pavement that flanks the area in what could best be described as a soap box derby-type vehicles constructed from wine barrels during the third annual Wine Barrel Races.
This year’s event saw seven competitors, some of whom were returning racers and some of whom were trying the competition out for the first time, according to event organizer Melody
Brunsting said she was excited to be holding the races once again this year because she’s always curious to see what people have constructed out of wine barrels.
Many times the barrel constructions are a family affair that parents or relatives of participants will help build, she said.
Friends Demetrius Broussard, 12, and Justin Samuel Frasier, 10, were two of the younger participants in the race this year. Frasier, the smaller of the two friends, sat in the barrel as Broussard pushed it down the track to help it gain momentum – something that every barrel team did – before letting it go to make its way down to the end of the track.
Broussard said the barrel held special significance, as did the event, because he constructed it with his uncle for last year’s event and was in the same spot his friend was last year.
While Broussard has definite plans to return for next year, Frasier said he has yet to determine if he’ll be back for next year.
If he does return, he said, a jacket may be in order.
“From the very beginning we were practicing at his house and then it came down to this day,” Frasier said. “It’s a lot of fun, but right now it’s really cold.”
The boys said that while being part of the process was exciting, the big draw was being able to see what other people had created out of their wine barrels.
There weren’t many restrictions on what people could create, according to Brunsting.
“They definitely have to have an appearance of a wine barrel,” she said. “They have to keep the integrity of the wine barrel to it and they also have to have a good steering mechanism – those are the requirements.”
Another requirement was that the barrel cars keep two wheels on the ground at all time, she said.
There was no shortage of creativity when it came to the kinds of barrels at the event. One barrel had been painted as a Ferrari while another proudly carried the symbol of the U.S. Forestry Service. Another interesting entry – painted as a police car – proudly carried the phrase, “Wine Police, To Pour and Serve.”
And then there was Bryan Barfknecht’s entry, which took best of show for the competition.
Barfknecht, owner of Barrely Living furniture, makes tables, couches, light fixtures and several other items out of wine barrel furniture and looks forward to the yearly event to show what he’s crafted. He’s participated every year since the event started and plans to return to again.
This year Barfknecht spared no expense to detail with his vehicle, which was complete with engravings, bottle holders and a trunk. He made use of various wine-related items such as cork and decorative plastic grapes.
“A lot of detail goes into these,” he said, showing his custom saddlebags, Harley mirrors and reworked metal embellishments.
This year’s first place winner was 13-year-old Kayla Manning, who rode inside the wine barrel Ferrari replica. It was a big moment for her, she said, because she’s participated every year as well. The first year she took third place, the second year she took second, and this year she took first.
However, she said winning wasn’t her favorite part.
“I just like to see everyone come out and have fun,” she said. “It’s a really good time.”