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Flying Pumpkins in N.H.

  • In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 photo, spectators watch pumpkins get launched jingo the sky during the "Extreme Chunkin" contest at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 photo, Chuck Willard, of Hancock, N.H., works the controls on his pumpkin thrower "Tired Iron"in Loudon, N.H. Months of welding discarded iron, his contraption catapults a 9-pound pumpkin almost half a mile. Sixteen teams competed at the grounds of New Hampshire Motor Speedway for bragging rights. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 photo, an air cannon launches a pumpkin during the "Extreme Chunkin" pumpkin launching contest at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 photo, dentist Steve Seigars from Greenfield, N.H. gets ready to catapult a pumpkin from his contraption "Yankee Siege II" during a pumping launching contest at New Hampshire Motor Speeday in Loudon, N.H. Seaigars is an 8-time world champion pumpkin launcher sending pumpkins more than a half mile. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 photo, Eric Ludlam, from Framingham, Mass. pulls the trigger on his pumpkin thrower "Mista Ballista" in Loudon, N.H. A design from a 400 BC rock thrower tosses a pumpkin more than 1,000 feet. Sixteen teams competed over the weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the longest pumpkin toss. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)


Monday, October 17, 2016

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LOUDON, N.H. — Pumpkins were going ballistic at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend.

Teams from as far away as Virginia came to the race track to use trebuchets, catapults and air guns to launch the fall fruit, some of which made a gourd-geous arc across the New Hampshire sky.

While the pumpkins — some weighing in at 1,000 pounds or more — were the featured item, they were not only things which were being fired. Some smaller pumpkins flew up to two-thirds of a mile across the speedway.

Other acts of wanton destruction for general amusement included large, crane-like launchers to throw cars, motorcycles, a boat and pianos. Not all of the shots were successful. When a pumpkin misfired, participants referred to the result as a “pie.”

Some of the teams clearly took seriously the task of getting their medieval or earlier weapons systems in place and ready to launch.

“A lot of work to travel and set up,” said Dave Shepard, a member of the Mista Ballista team from Framingham, Massachusetts. “Takes six guys maybe 10-12 hours.”

Some of the launchers demonstrated significant shade-tree ingenuity. One team’s rig used garage door opener springs, while another put a half mile of surgical tubing into service.

Category winners got a trophy and a story to tell.