Photo by Bryan Soderlind
Sports and Recreation - Staff Picks
Published: July 12, 2011
Best use for a baseball bat
Armando Gutierrez, Jr.
Once a Republican political hopeful whisked into Central Florida in a Republican carpetbag from his South Florida home as a viable rival for Alan Grayson’s House seat, Armando Gutierrez quickly dropped the political ball in favor of his one true passion: baseball. When he slipped out of the race in early 2010, all of his Field of Dreams posturing gave off a whiff of a mental asylum or a particularly misguided douchebag. But by May 2011, Gutierrez’s mission had only become more crystallized with a Hail-Mary proposal to build a baseball stadium for the Tampa Yankees farm league near the convention center on International Drive. Also, the county would be expected to take a loss on the whole deal. This will never happen. Then again, that’s what they told Kevin Costner, right?
Best way to taunt alligators
Paratour powered paragliding
23706 Tex Wheeler Ave., Christmas ; 352-461-6723; paratour.com
Right across from where Midway Airboat launches tours into the gator-filled St. Johns River in Christmas, Paratour teaches would-be pilots the finer points of strapping a huge fan to your back, hooking up to an overhead parasail and then flying over grazing pasture and swamp dotted with cows and swarms of alligators. Paragliding, as it’s called, is a sport for people who want a little more control over their flight than is possible with parachuting, and for those who love “adventure sports” that require crazy investments in gear or lessons, resulting in ever more daring ways to hurt themselves. Despite the use of a gas-powered engine and fan, there is some athleticism involved in navigating. And you’ll want to be in tip-top shape to wrestle one of the 14,000 80-toothed inhabitants on the ground below, should you need to perform a crash landing.
Best low-rent NASCAR-like experience
Orlando Speed World Dragway
19442 E. Colonial Drive, 407-568-2717; speedworlddragway.com
Drag racing may not be the sport of gentlemen, but it sure can be entertaining. True, there’s a high redneck quotient, but the average race fan at Orlando Speed World Dragway is just your normal car- and horsepower-loving speed-freak. The racers are regular car guys – though there are some legends among them – who pimp out street cars with outrageous engines, roll cages and primo endurance parts. A true car-lovers track, you’ll see a ’72 Chevelle competing against an ’03 Hyundai and all makes and models in between. There’s your standard drag (two competitors race on a quarter-mile track) and stockcar racing, but you can also see races with flaming school buses, flame-spitting trucks and cars pulling boats or RV trailers. In the NHRA Super Pro drag racing series, as with almost all races here, drivers come from all over Central Florida. Street drags are scheduled every Wednesday and Friday night 6-10:30 p.m., and on Saturday there’s bracket races with eliminations starting at 3:00 p.m.
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