Traveling through Europe you’ll notice that many things are just a little bit different from the United States. Like the Royale with Cheese (actually the Cheese Royal, Tarantino got it wrong), Europe has many slightly different takes on American icons.
Demolition derby, for example is huge in the United Kingdom, but it’s called banger racing. Cars race around a track while smashing into each other. Nobody cares much about who wins the race since the crashes and flips are far more fun.
The most popular car to use for these races is the Reliant Robin. These three-wheeled vehicles were popular in the 1970s and ’80s because legally they were considered motorcycles and weren’t subject to high automobile taxes. Lightly built of fiberglass and equipped with surprisingly powerful engines, they’re fast but top heavy, and liable to flip on sharp turns. This, of course, makes them perfect for banger racing. Check out this video to see what I mean.
That’s right. Not content with having some of the best castles in Europe, the Spaniards like constructing living towers up to ten people high. Called a castell, the tradition originated in the region of Catalonia in the 18th century.
A bunch of strong, big castellars make up the pinya (base) and support their teammates as they create level upon level with progressively fewer (and lighter) people. Once a level is complete, the people who make up the next one climb up the backs of the others and take their place. Then the top person, called an enxaneta (rider) climbs all the way to the very top and, supported by only two people, raises a hand with four fingers up to symbolize the Catalan flag. The enxaneta and the very top levels are often made up of children to lighten the load on the bottom levels. Then the castell disassembles itself from the top down by each level climbing back to the ground. Only when everyone is safely back on the ground is the castell considered a success.
It’s an unusual tradition and now the castellars are applying to get their art on UNESCO’s list of “intangible world heritage”. The list includes examples of rare cultural practices that are relatively unknown and unpracticed outside a certain region. Check out the website for more bizarre and amazing practices around the world.