Lincoln 500: 40 Years of Tykes on Trikes

Racers line up in preparation of the 40th race of the Lincoln 500 at Lincoln Elementary School.
Photo by Nicolas JAMES


Reluctantly crouched at the starting line
Engines pumping and thumping in time
The green light flashes, the flags go up
Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup…


By Rachelle MILLER


“Going The Distance by Cake” was playing through speakers as the Lincoln Elementary Dad’s Club set up the course for the running of the Lincoln 500 on the morning of Friday, May 27. This was the 40th anniversary of the Lincoln 500 and Principal Barbara Farris could not be more excited.

“We are thrilled to be able to have the race today and include our very first T-K [transitional kindergarten] class and our Lincoln scholarship recipients and their parents in the audience today,” she said.

The Lincoln 500 was started in 1982 by Lincoln fifth grade teacher John Lamont. According to former kindergarten teachers Pat Kalish and Cheryl Duncan, Lamont wanted to create a fun event that had all the grades working together and would build a sense of community within the school.

In Friday’s audience, Heather Peterson and Mary Ellen Miller, parents of two scholarship winners and themselves Lincoln alumnae who were in attendance at the inaugural Lincoln 500, remembered fondly their participation as students.

The race consisted of seven teams (purple, yellow, orange, green, blue, red and black) and included students from grades K-six. Each team chose a driver, pit crew, spotter, etc. who practiced together for a few weeks leading up to the race. On race day, the remaining students were in the audience with each class cheering and waving flags of their team’s color. Cheering alongside were parents of the scholarship winners and families of Yearly Staff Award recipients.

The start of the race began with much fanfare with dignitaries taking a lap around the course in classic cars, waving to the crowd. Grand marshal of this year’s event was Principal Farris, who led a parade of 27 Lincoln scholarship high school seniors, Masonic Employee of the Year Doris Gaither and Classified Staff Member of the Year Angie Griffin, and members of GPD motorcycle brigade. Emcee Geoff DeBoskey started the race with flair, and called the race with panache and just the right amount of “Bad Dad” jokes.

Once the race was underway, the tricycle drivers pedaled as fast as they could, jockeying for position, their pit crew letting them know when to come to pit row for water and tire check before pushing them back out onto the course.

Students, parents and staff cheered and shouted encouragement to all drivers, gasping in horror when a trike collision occurred (no one was injured) and jumping to their feet as the trikes got the checkered flag wave to speed through the finish line. The blacktop was abuzz with laughter and chatter, rehashing the race as all the teams came to the Winners Circle for the award ceremony.  

As the 40th iteration of the Lincoln 500 was in the books, chairs were returned to classrooms, smiles were on the faces of students and teachers making it clear that John Lamont succeeded in his mission to bring students together to support and cooperate with each other no matter their age.