By DrFran Babcock
RacerX was amongst the earliest of my friends in Second Life™. I met him in several places around the grid, and he was always welcoming and helpful, and remains that way to this very day, even after ten years on the grid.
When I first came in, Racer was strongly aligned with the Elf Circle community, then led by Wayfinder and Forcythia Wishbringer. He came to the first classes in building that I taught there, and my fondest earliest memory was of what I think was a machinima conference put on by missing oldbie Susie Spicoli who was involved in the old Alt Zoom Studio. Racer’s build was a rabbit hole that you fell down, and into the world of his early videos, made with his then constant companion: Snail Dude. Rabbit holes figure in much of Racer’s work, as do carrots.
Did I mention that Racer is a bunny? The other thing that needs to be said is that of all the folks I know in Second Life™, only RacerX has remained steadfast and true to one ideal, one goal and one very special event in life, and this is Giant Snail Racing. I don’t think I can remember a time when there wasn’t a Snail Race over the weekend.
In fact, something many readers may not know is that while I am the world’s worst snail racer, I did spend some time being a broadcaster with Treet TV. It is almost impossible to believe that the Treet website just hosted the 300th anniversary episode edition of the snail races, celebrating nine years of snail racing.
Ten Years Old!
Along with over 1,000 residents, I received an invitation to RacerX’s tenth rezday party. While I couldn’t stay for the duration—marred by some griefing events—I was thrilled to share this day with an oldbie who has always been so positive about our beloved virtual world.
Click here if the video fails to play
Now that RacerX was ten, he qualified as an oldbie, and I wasted no time asking him for an interview. He consented almost immediately, which was just what I thought he would do.
Below are Racer's answers to the usual Oldbie Project questions. After that, I will share with you the time I spent as Racer delighted in showing me around his two parcels.
SL Newser: How did you find out about Second Life™?
RacerX Gullwing: My brother hipped me to it.
RacerX Gullwing: Well, I came in at that old welcome area with the Start Here sign in an archway It was daytime. I got nervous and left, but got my courage up about a about a half hour later and went back in. Now it was nighttime. I flew out of the start area and went to that town to the east and wandered through some of the shops there.
SL Newser: What kept you logging back in during the early days?
RacerX Gullwing: Within two days my brother bought me a membership so I could get my free land; at that time it was called first land. I found a nice plot on top of a hill in Koleamoku and put in my application for it. When I got it I was surrounded by others who had just got their free land,and we became friends shouting to each other as we built our first homes. It was a great time. We were all learning how to build and texture.
SL Newser: What are your fondest memories of the early days?
RacerX Gullwing: My neighbor Snow Hare invited me down to enjoy her hot tub. I felt like I was home. This was a cool place. I experimented with a flying vehicle script I found somewhere, and made a butterfly and Snow and I proceeded to crash into everything. Good times!
SL Newser: What are your funniest memories of the early days?
RacerX Gullwing: I found the events page, and started looking up upcoming events there was an Evil Clown contest. That sounded like fun so I made a pretty evil looking clown, pulled out a bazooka, and went to the party.The prize was 500 Lindens. I figured what could be more evil than a clown with a bazooka? So I flew up to the rafters and commenced with the blasting. They nicely asked me to stop it. So I did, and I didn't win. There was a good Ronald McDonald impersonator with his penis out and a sign hanging from it I forget what it said but he won. Still was fun. Yes, I was a griefer at my first event.
SL Newser: Did you fall in love in Second Life™?
RacerX Gullwing: Oh, yeah!
SL Newser: Who was your favorite Linden?
RacerX Gullwing: Well, usually whatever linden was helping me that day. The Lindens were more accessible back then. I've known quite a few: Pathfinder Torley—even before he was a Linden—, and Hamlet. Spike was great, and helped me set out the detour signs for some of the cross country snail races. Jill linden, who was in charge of the tour group, and allowed you to give people rides from the Welcome Area.
SL Newser: Do you still log into SL?
RacerX Gullwing: I do log in daily, mostly to hang with friends. I also log in to build new things, but not so much anymore. There’s a lot of work that goes into the giant snail races every week: updating leader boards, making textures we use on the show, figuring out what’s going to happen to snail dude in the coming week.
SL Newser: What were your favorite activities?
RacerX Gullwing: I loved the Misty Rhodes Show and Show and Tell. I met some great script writers and avatar designers and sometimes won prizes.
SL Newser: What would you like the world to know about Second Life™?
RacerX Gullwing: Hey world, this is one of the most wonderful places on the Internet, and it's all been built and uploaded by the people that live here. It’s like Leggoland with better bricks. Whatever you can imagine, can become a place here or a thing or an event.
I had one more question, instigated by fellow reporter Gemma Cleanslate:
SL Newser: Racer, how did you choose your name?
RacerX Gullwing: I was playing Battlezone, a hovertank game, and I tried a lot of names there and that’s the one that stuck. I wanted the last name Racer, but it wasn’t available, and Gullwing was most related to cars, so I chose it.
A Visit With RacerX at Fujin
RacerX teleported me over to Fujin, which I recalled was one of his original plots of land. The Beer Eats shack is still there, and Racer told me he had retrofitted it back to the original form. If you have never been there, it’s a must see. The psychedelic shack is all I will say. Trust me; take the Landmark below.
Early in his days on Fujin sim he was approached by Dane Zander who asked him to build a castle for him. He completed the high prim (over 800 prims), four story castle, that Dane loved it, and placed it on the sim of Montmartre, where the Giant Snail Races lived for many years. Racer wondered how I would write about all of the stuff that he showed me, and I admit it’s a challenge. However, I think you should take the Landmark to Fujin, and visit the Bamboo Beer Eats Bait Shop, and go for a trippy ride. Don’t forget to touch every button there.
For the past few years The Giant Snail Races have been held on Devon Dream, a sim owned by RacerX’s SL wife, Safra Nitely. Along with Safra, Racer holds Giant Snail Races every week with the able assistance of Tindalia Soothsayer, Oodlemi Noodle, and several other residents and props. Each week there is a theme, and the track is decorated anew each week. I am not planning to write about the races, though, I want you to stroll RacerX’s tidy rabbit hole on Devon Dream.
“So this is my place. I say it’s under the track, but its way under the track. The Snail Race Track is 777 meters up from here. The build is sort of a recreation of the rabbit hole I made for one of my first machinimas.
Racer steered me over to a wall map I had never seen before. He explained that it was created shortly after the snow sims were created on mainland, and there were only about 100 sims: “This is Montmartre, or was, it's moved a few times and been resold. It used to belong to Mae Best. It had a wonderful sandbox area and was home weekly quizzes made up by Mae three or four times a week. I met a lot of great people there. I’ll never forget, because The Giant Snail Races started there running in a circle around the sim in November. 2004.”
“My first land was on Koleamoku. There’s a store there now. I only stayed there about a month until my neighbors found a new place, and I followed them to Fujin. It was at the edge of the world at the time. It was the golden age of SL.”
Racer took me to a wall that was covered with snail memes and photos. He told me that these were all gifts that had been sent to him. He showed me a chair that was from one of his earliest machinimas, that was made by Adrienne Belvedere, who was also responsible for the avatar of Snail Dude’s girlfriend. Racer showed me some other pictures, and we chatted a bit about Waelya Tenk, on hiatus from SL to raise a child. The most astonishing shot on the wall was one of RacerX as a tall, grey bunny. Even stranger, though were some of the first pictures he took of himself, when he was still humanoid.
Racer was in no way finished with his tour. He pointed to a basket in the corner of the room, and slowly a cobra emerged and started to stare us down. RacerX climbed on the cobra, and was soon climbing out of sight. I followed him, and emerged on the roof of the house, dotted with huge carrots growing out of the sod on the roof.
I could almost hear Racer giggling as he led me to a small prop plane, and explained: “OK, so up here we have Snail Dude’s plane. He’s just learning to fly it, so grab onto the plane.” Of course I did. After I crashed, I returned to Racer who asked: “He’s not very good, is he?” I guess not. Racer also pointed out the windsock he had scripted. It was a carrot that grew longer the higher the wind speed.
I envy RacerX for saving things from his early days. My early builds were trash-worthy, so that’s where they ended up, but RacerX has held on to a lot of things. With great pride he showed me a flower chair that he had made by twisting prims in 2006—right after twisted prims were released. He could only use seven prims. RacerX elaborated that the butterfly part of the build was made by Kim Anubis, another name from the past.
But, wait, there’s more. RacerX couldn’t wait to show me his rocket ride. This is a bit hard to write about, but what I can say is that it’s his first really large build. You actually get to rise up to the rocketship entrance on an erector set elevator, and once seated you become weightless. There are countdowns and audio input galore. We were told that we were drifting off course, that it seems we used feet instead of meters when we worked this out on paper, this isn’t good looks like you’re too close to the moon, and that's just going to increase your speed, and that we were in a collision course with Jupiter unless we could get the retro rockets to fire in time.
Sadly, the Control told us we had skipped off Jupiter, and were leaving the solar system. Yikes!
In typical RacerX fashion the whole thing exploded and we tumbled down to the ground. Lucky thing this was SL. Racer has made some adaptations to this build in recent years to accommodate lower prims, and changes in the story, but the spirit of the rocket remains.
At this point I thanked RacerX, and told him I was off to do a lot of editing, because I had so much material. It was an enjoyable few hours passing time with a historic bunny. See you soon, RacerX Gullwing.
Video of RacerX’s Tenth Rezday Party: http://vimeo.com/99681505
Beer Eats Bait Shop on Fujin: http://maps.secondlife.com/
Snail Races every Saturday on Devon Dreams at http://maps.secondlife.com/: