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The turtle & the tavern 

Turtle racing at Ed's Tavern

Ed's Tavern is the newest edition to Dilworth -- it's a quaint neighborhood bar tucked down on Park Road. Now this is Park Road that runs East and West, not to be confused with Park Road that runs north and south -- gotta love Charlotte streets. It's one of those chill, everyone-is-welcome type of joints. I rolled in there fresh off the treadmill in sweaty sweats, and I didn't get so much as a "what is she wearing" look, let alone denied entrance. The five-month-old Ed's Tavern is a five-star dive. Ed's Tavern is such a different bar, it even has its own currency: drink chips -- red buys beer and blue buys cocktails. And every Wednesday, Ed's transforms into a "tortoise and the hare" race, sans the hare. For $3 you can rent a turtle, which you have to name. Some of the selected names for the turtles on a recent Wednesday were My Ex-Girlfriend, Ron Jeremy, Cooter, Fergie Tergs, and Michael Vick. The Vick turtle didn't exactly make an 80-yard dash, but he did try to make it past security with a water bottle full of weed.

The racing format includes six heats of five turtles and a final round. The winner of each heat gets a free drink and qualifies for finals, and the winner of the finals gets a $25 gift certificate. The racetrack is a circular mat and the objective for the turtles is to reach the outside of the mat first.

The turtle master, John from Pineville Pets, loads the turtles in a circular enclosure in the middle of the mat, the starting line, if you will. Some turtles hide in their shells (few never actually make it out), while others kick their little legs in the air to get a head start. Other turtles crawl over each other, either attempting to cheat or sexually harass the competition. By the way, turtles are like hares in the fact they are mating maniacs -- some turtles got distracted from racing and started mating in the middle of the mat, turning the turtle race into turtle porn.

Meanwhile, on that particular day, other turtles were on a mission; one turtle took off and hit the wall in a record-breaking 30 seconds, winning his proud renter a free bar tab. In the midst of all the excitement, spectators would jump up in down cheerleading for their turtle, often causing vibrations that stopped a turtle dead in its slow-moving tracks and turned them around.

The professional racing turtles live in a pond at Pineville Pets, and there is no harming of turtles in this event.

What's next ... Hamster Bowling?

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