Bed Races: A Ball State Homecoming tradition
Editor's note: In honor of the university's centennial year, The Daily News is counting down 100 days to the university's celebration Sept. 6 with 100 of Ball State's most famous traditions and figures. Check back each day to read about Cardinal history.
Each year, the university closes down a portion of Riverside Avenue for a Homecoming tradition that began in 1980.
Bed Races consists of teams of five — one rider and four pushers — racing down a 100-yard course with a bed on wheels. Teams compete two at a time to see who will clock the fastest time.
Teams compete in divisions, with trophies handed out in each division. The teams with the fastest times in each division advance to the final competition to compete for the overall title. Additionally, a trophy is handed out to the team with the best costume.
The annual tradition originally began when students used beds from the nearby fraternity houses. They attached welded wheels onto the frames and ran down the streets with the beds. Eventually, the university opened a welding shop that made the beds for participants for the Bed Race.
In 1981, The Daily News reported 67 teams competed, up 19 from the year previous.
Teams used to put the lightest person on the bed, in the hopes they could push it faster. However, in an October 1997 edition of The Daily News, Ilan Eframian, Bed Race chairman at the time, said the strategy changed a little bit.
“Teams used to pick the lightest person to push on the bed, this didn’t work because it made the bed wobbly and slower,” Eframian said. “This year the fatter the person the better, because it holds the bed solid on the ground, making it go faster.”
Traditionally, the entry fee for the races is $25.