Monday, August 4, 2008

My near-death experience with the Soap Box Derby

So there I was ... suit and tie .. microphone in hand ... surrounded by the best soap box derby drivers in the world ... with an audience of 2,000 including all the parents in the audience.

E.J. Thomas Hall was full of energy and excitement.

With bright lights in my face and special-effect smoke rolling in from the left, I took a few steps forward on the stage to engage the crowd .. as we emcees are supposed to do.

All of a sudden, I stopped .. and my eyesight cleared just enough to see that I was standing near the edge of a stage looking down about 50 feet into the orchestra pit below.

Another step-and-a-half and I'd have been a goner.

What no one told me was that while the orchestra pit was covered at the beginning of the awards program giving the appearance of a solid, complete stage (see diagram) .. the pit was being raised and lowered periodically to make the derby champs rise up like Elton John at Radio City Music Hall.

Again, no one told me .. and with the lights and smoke, I nearly made derby history in front of a few thousand people by falling to my death. I could see it now ... The "EJ" in "EJ Thomas Hall" would forever be stand for "Eric Jumped".

For the rest of the show, I stayed close to the podium and didn't stray towards the front of the stage. Meanwhile, I was keeping a close eye on the drivers that were coming on and off the stage as the orchestra pit kept going up and down.

At one point, Dennis Van Fossen Jr., last year's champ, was on one knee presenting the champ's ring to this year's Rally Champ. While kneeling, DJ was only about two feet from the edge .. I made a point of remarking to the microphone that he should watch his step as he stood up or he too might have tumbled.

Altogether, it was a great show .. and I loved being part of it. Still, while the race has been nicknamed the "gravity grand prix", I didn't need the stress of knowing how close I was to proving the "gravity" part.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So sorry Eric!!! My fault. In spite of your near death experience, you were wonderful as MC. Thanks so much.