Enter Sand Men

Think "sand drags" mean a keg at the river bottom and a coupla converted Beetles? Meet Richard Holmes, a man who hasn't forgotten his raisin' -- or his racin'. The boy who launched his buggy over the dunes now kicks up a desert storm this Friday, May 21, and Saturday, May 22, at Canyon Raceway for the Championship Sand Drags. How can track racing be as sexy as midnight drags? "This is the real deal," says Holmes. "Electronic timing, Christmas tree. Our cars are asphalt-ready -- we just take off the slicks and put on paddle tires," which raise some dust. Holmes' top fuel car spits a rooster tail of sand 100 feet high and eats the 100-yard distance in 2.4 seconds. (Okay, we've never seen that at the Agua Fria.)

Nineteen different classes compete, starting with the youngsters. While their counterparts squabble in the sandbox, youths 9 and younger mount quads, go-carts and junior dragsters. Bigger kids raise Mummy-style clouds in vehicles from motorcycles to Jeeps to top fuel/top alcohol/A-Fuel dragsters.

Let the yard work wait -- spring for one last fling before summer really begins. Admission is $10, or $15 for both days. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at the raceway, located at 99th Avenue, south of Carefree Highway. For more information, call 928-587-9385. -- Kim Toms

Tri Harder
Three is the magic number in Tempe

Sun 5/23
Any ASU student will tell you that Tempe's got the trifecta -- babes, beer and the beach (that of the Town Lake, of course). So it's only fitting that more than 600 triple-threat athletes will make their way to Tempe Town Lake on Sunday, May 23, for the "Rio Salado Road to Athens" Triathlon. From 6 a.m. to noon, U.S. Olympic hopefuls Victor Prada, Julie Swail and Mark Fretta, as well as more than 100 pro triathletes and 500 amateurs, will swim, run and bike the 32-plus-mile course for the $20,000 purse. Spectators can watch for free; participants must register ($75) by Saturday, May 22, at or at Monti's La Casa Vieja on Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. -- Joe Watson