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Ben Hur Never Had A Chariot Like This
Chariot makers Robert and Rick Lichfield, a father and son team from Brigham City, Utah, have been building chariots for 32 years. The sport, which is thousands of years old, has experienced a rebirth in recent decades and now draws thousand to state meets in 11 states and upwards of 10,000 people to the world finals each year.
  "It's a lot more fun than sulky or flatback racing," says Lichfield. "When a team breaks out of the gate, nothing stops them. The horses are 16 to 17 hands high and weigh 1,200 to 1,400 lbs. each and are bred for quick speed in a quarter mile."
  Many chariot racers cross a quarter horse and a thoroughbred, though horses of all breeds are raced. "Today we even have people putting mini-chariots on miniature horses," notes Lichfield.
  He describes chariot racing as a hazardous sport, citing a woman driver who was thrown out of her basket and run over when a driver behind her ran his horse up and into her chariot. Two weeks later she was back at the races and later won a division championship.
  Standard chariots are about 4 ft. wide and weigh 50 to 80 lbs. They sport aluminum wheels and tubing, with fiberglass baskets. Chariots, harness and driver must have a minimum weight of 275 lbs. at race time.
  While the basic design remains unchanged from the days of Ben Hur, the Lichfields have designed a unique safety system of braces to connect the tongue, basket and axle. No holes are drilled in the tongue. Instead, stainless steel clamps go around the tongue. Braces from one set hold the double tree. The second set holds seven stainless steel braces, five of which go to the basket and two go to the axle.
  Helmets are standard, as are safety ropes running from the neck yoke to the harness. "You want to prevent the tongue from gouging into the ground," explains the chariot maker, who first raced back in the 1930's, "or it can catapult you 300 feet."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup: Robert Lichfield, Lichfield Industries, Inc. 993 Hickory , Brigham City, Utah 84302 (ph 435 723-3783).

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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #4