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A Worldwide Push To Bring Back Chariot Racing
SignOnSanDiego.com ^ | May 24, 2007 | THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Posted on 05/24/2007 9:17:51 AM PDT by DogByte6RER

A Worldwide Push To Bring back chariot Racing

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

May 24, 2007

SAO SIMAO, Brazil – On a drowsy May day in the country, tractors and combines were lumbering down dirt roads when, suddenly, a cloud of dust rose up on the horizon. Birds scattered. Rumbling across the green landscape came seven racing chariots, each pulled by four horses.

Riding in the chariot decorated with an engraving of Alexander the Great was Luiz Augusto Alves de Oliveira, a 50-year-old sugar-cane farmer who has an epic plan: returning chariot racing to its ancient glory. In this May Day race at the 1,500-foot hippodrome he built on his ranch in central Brazil, de Oliveira hung back in the middle of the pack of chariots for most of the event. But with two laps to go, he let go the reins, speeded up the horses to about 40 miles an hour, and won easily. “You have to have patience and a sense of timing to be a charioteer,” de Oliveira said later, mingling with 70 spectators he had invited for beer and barbecue.

De Oliveira is part of a highly committed global community of horse and history buffs who believe that chariot racing is a sport whose time has come again, after a hiatus of a millennium or so. In the Middle East, France and England, as well as in Brazil, these modern charioteers are enduring bone-jarring bumps to revive the contests that thrilled the ancients and, more recently, launched a whole genre of Hollywood sword-and-sandal movies.

One of the men behind the international buggy boomlet, Swedish-born Stellan Lind, became obsessed with chariots after watching the famous racing scene in “Ben-Hur,” the 1959 movie starring Charlton Heston. “Chariot racing was the Formula One of the antiquities,” said Lind, who for years was a pharmaceuticals executive.

Lind saw his chance to resurrect racing several years ago when he stumbled onto a Roman hippodrome in Jerash, Jordan, that was being restored by archaeologists. He got financial backing from the Jordan Tourism Board to hold re-enactments of races and gladiator fights there. To help him design chariots that were functional as well as historically faithful, Lind tracked down a former “Ben-Hur” prop man who was keeping several of the chariots used in the film in his barn in Rome. In 2005, Lind and his company, the Roman Army and Chariot Experience, or RACE, started entertaining tourists in Jerash with Roman exhibitions.

Last September in Paris, director Robert Hossein staged five performances of a $17 million Ben-Hur re-enactment at the Stade de France, featuring hundreds of extras appearing as charioteers, gladiators and pirates. It drew close to 300,000 spectators.

Chariot racing's mass appeal was no mystery to the ancient Greeks, who made the sport a mainstay of the early Olympic Games. In Rome, fans often spent the night before a race camping out at the Circus Maximus, the 250,000-seat stadium, in order to get a good seat.

In modern times, Hollywood has helped keep chariots rolling in the popular imagination. A stuntman and scores of horses died filming the chariot race in the original silent version of “Ben-Hur,” released in 1925. In the 1959 version of the film, which won 11 Oscars, a nearly disastrous mishap in which a stuntman got flipped out of the chariot was incorporated into the film.

More recently, “Gladiator,” the Russell Crowe epic, featured a memorably gory fight between gladiators and chariots bearing female archers.

De Oliveira's career as a charioteer began about 10 years ago while he was recovering from a motorcycle accident and had nothing to do but watch the Charlton Heston “Ben-Hur” over and over. When he finally got back on his feet, de Oliveira set about working with field hands and friends to build and race aluminum chariots.

Neighbors such as Heloisa Consoni were apprehensive at first about the goings-on at de Oliveira's ranch. “We weren't sure if he meant to bring in lions and gladiators, too,” Consoni says. But now she is a fan. “How can you not love that speed?” she says.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: benhur; chariot; chariotracing; chariots; gambling; gladiator; godsgravesglyphs; greeks; horse; horserace; horseracing; horses; nikanika; racing; roman; romanempire; rome; sports; wagering
Yes!!!!

Gentlemen, start your chariots!

1 posted on 05/24/2007 9:17:55 AM PDT by DogByte6RER
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Messala vs. Judah Ben Hur
2 posted on 05/24/2007 9:18:53 AM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket This is better than a NASCAR wreck!
3 posted on 05/24/2007 9:20:12 AM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: DogByte6RER

Next comes the Christians to the lions huh???


4 posted on 05/24/2007 9:20:14 AM PDT by Uncle George
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To: Uncle George
Oh please...

Racing chariots and religious persecution are two completely different things.

Read the article!

Chariot racing has nothing to do with with public executions of innocents for their religious beliefs.

While everybody can agree that there were many aspects of ancient Roman society that were very brutal, nobody can deny that ancient Rome has had a tremendous influence upon Western Civilization and American culture.

Just take a look at Washington, D.C. The architecture of so many of the government buildings pay homage to ancient Roman and Greek societies.

You don’t throw out the good with the bad.

5 posted on 05/24/2007 9:27:56 AM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: DogByte6RER

I’d be happier if they’d bring back dueling, especially on the floor of Congress.


6 posted on 05/24/2007 9:29:37 AM PDT by Madame Dufarge
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To: DogByte6RER

If May Day parading Communists are for it, I’m against it.

And we’ve had chariot racing at the Houston Rodeo for years.


7 posted on 05/24/2007 9:29:52 AM PDT by weegee (Libs want us to learn to live with terrorism, but if a gun is used they want to rewrite the Const.)
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To: DogByte6RER

I remember reading an article with photos of chariot racing in America back in the 1950’s or 60’s.

They made the chariots out of 55 gallon drums, and they used air filled rubber tires from cars or trucks or something.


8 posted on 05/24/2007 9:29:53 AM PDT by Age of Reason
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To: DogByte6RER
Just take a look at Washington, D.C. The architecture of so many of the government buildings pay homage to ancient Roman and Greek societies.

Makes you wonder just which god they "trust"...


9 posted on 05/24/2007 9:31:50 AM PDT by weegee (Libs want us to learn to live with terrorism, but if a gun is used they want to rewrite the Const.)
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To: Age of Reason

That sounds a lot like Redneck Chariot Racing!

Sort of like Ben Hur meets NASCAR.

lol


10 posted on 05/24/2007 9:32:03 AM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: DogByte6RER

That’s about what it was—a bunch of cowboys in chariots.


11 posted on 05/24/2007 9:33:35 AM PDT by Age of Reason
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To: weegee
And we’ve had chariot racing at the Houston Rodeo for years.

They should challenge the fellas in the article to a race.

That would be something.

12 posted on 05/24/2007 9:35:22 AM PDT by Age of Reason
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The Charioteer of Delphi, also known as Heniokhos (the rein-holder), is one of the best-known statues surviving from Ancient Greece, and is considered one of the finest examples of ancient bronze statues. The life-size statue of a chariot driver was found in 1896 at the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi, and is now in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.
13 posted on 05/24/2007 9:38:19 AM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: Uncle George
Next comes the Christians to the lions huh???

Actually having condemned criminals fight in gladiator events would be a good vulgar entertainment for the mob.

Of course the ideal would be to reintroduce Roman concepts for fighting (and clemency) to the millitary.

14 posted on 05/24/2007 9:38:45 AM PDT by Centurion2000 (Killing all of your enemies without mercy is the only sure way of sleeping soundly at night.)
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To: Age of Reason

Sort of like the Roman Circuses, eh? Well, swell, that will go hand in hand with the bread that costs a day’s wage, and we’ll be truly reliving history. Bread and Circuses. So — what? They couldn’t be happy with harness racing? Lovely sport — much more civilized.


15 posted on 05/24/2007 9:40:53 AM PDT by Constitutions Grandchild
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The Charioteer of Delphi was erected at Delphi in 474 BC, to commemorate the victory of a chariot team in the Pythian Games, which were held at Delphi every four years in honour of Pythean Apollo. It was originally part of a larger group of statuary, including the chariot, four (possibly six) horses and two grooms. Some fragments of the horses were found with the statue. When intact, it must have been one of the most imposing works of statuary in the world.
16 posted on 05/24/2007 9:43:01 AM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: Constitutions Grandchild
"So — what? They couldn’t be happy with harness racing? Lovely sport — much more civilized."

And much more boring too.

17 posted on 05/24/2007 9:58:15 AM PDT by Hoof Hearted
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To: DogByte6RER

Don’t forget 8-track tapes. your cheriot won’t be right without an 8-track. oh and bring back lederhosen we need those too. Everything o
d is just so cool.


18 posted on 05/24/2007 10:00:37 AM PDT by MrEdd (L. Ron Gore creator of "Fry-n-tology" the global warming religion.)
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To: DogByte6RER

It's called "harness racing" today.

-Eric

19 posted on 05/24/2007 10:07:50 AM PDT by E Rocc (Myspace "Freepers" group moderator)
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To: DogByte6RER


Chuckwagons may have been invented to provide food for cowboys out on the range, but at the Calgary Stampede, 36 chucks and their crews turn out with nary a pancake on their minds. The Chuckwagon Races are the wildest and most popular event at Stampede. In heats of four teams each, the crews barrel around the track in nail-biting competition every night for ten days. The winner of the final 'sudden death' heat takes home a check for CDN$50,000.
20 posted on 05/24/2007 10:22:09 AM PDT by caveat emptor
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To: Hoof Hearted

Oh, I don’t know. From the horses point of view, I’m sure it’s a lot more fun. From the Charioteer’s point of view — well, he’s just looking a bunch of horses’ asses. ;-)


21 posted on 05/24/2007 10:30:16 AM PDT by Constitutions Grandchild
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To: E Rocc

Just, damn!!! Don’t they look fine!!!!


22 posted on 05/24/2007 10:31:13 AM PDT by Constitutions Grandchild
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To: DogByte6RER

Actually, I’d be a lot happier if we brought back something else from Rome - the goal of utterly defeating our enemies, and salting the Earth when we do it. You’d have lots less wars if we did that a couple of times. Oh, and the salting process can be speeded up quite a bit by substituting uranium salts for common table salt.


23 posted on 05/24/2007 10:45:30 AM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: E Rocc
' "It's called "harness racing" today. "

Hardly! In harness racing there is only one "trotting horse", not a team of them. They aren't even allowed to run (gallop)!. If there wasn't a betting angle to harness racing, few people would pay any attention to it at all.

24 posted on 05/24/2007 10:50:54 AM PDT by Hoof Hearted
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To: DogByte6RER

Ever hear of MotoGP?

Or WSBK?


25 posted on 05/24/2007 10:55:03 AM PDT by taxed2death (A few billion here, a few trillion there...we're all friends right?)
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To: Ancesthntr

I agree with you brother...

We wouldn’t even have to go back 2000 years to adopt the ancient Romans’ war tactics.

We only need to go back less than 150 years and adopt Sherman’s tactics as he marched to Atlanta.

Regardless of where your sympathies might reside (North or South) Sherman’s total warfare tactics in the South were militarily sound and decimated his adversary.

There’s a bit more about this at:

http://www.history.com/minisite.do?content_type=Minisite_Generic&display_order=8&content_type_id=53391&mini_id=51103

To put it simply...we should be vanquishing our enemies, not trying to win their hearts and minds.


26 posted on 05/24/2007 11:05:45 AM PDT by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: DogByte6RER
Never mind the chariots, bring back the cheetahs! A little known fact - cheetahs are native to the American plains and later migrated to Africa and other places over the Bering bridge. Cheetahs are very seriously endangered in Africa, time to bring them home. Bring back the cheetahs and pronghorns to feed them!
27 posted on 05/24/2007 11:59:13 PM PDT by jordan8
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To: jordan8
They brought back the Peregrine Falcon to combat the Pigeon problem. The Cheetah’s would certainly thin the heard of the homeless...
28 posted on 05/25/2007 12:11:47 AM PDT by endthematrix (a globalized and integrated world - which is coming, one way or the other. - Hillary)
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To: endthematrix

Only the slow ones.


29 posted on 05/25/2007 8:21:19 AM PDT by jordan8
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