San Juan Capistrano – It’s that time of year again. Like the sparrows every season, competitors are drawn from all over the world to this sleepy coastal town for the culmination of a rite of youthful passage. The summer-long tournament spanning the globe has brought only the best competitors for the 63rd running of the Punch Buggy World Series.
Punch Buggy is a universally loved game, easy to learn but difficult to master, full of subtle nuances and strategy. Two contestants are strapped into the backseat of a Volkswagen Routan (the official mini-van of the Punch Buggy World Series), which drives around a course throughout the city planted with VW Bugs. When spotted, the first contestant to land a punch on their competitor’s upper arm, whilst declaring “Punch Buggy!” and stating the color of the vehicle, gets the point.
In the American brackets, Northeast Regional Champ “Eagle Eye” Eddie Cheese was down on points to Mid-West Champ Bubby Brister with only a few minutes left when their van passed two VW Bugs and Cheese beat Brister to the punch on both. Realizing he was losing momentum, Brister then hastily called a “Punch Buggy green,” and got a good smack in…but the judges quickly noted that he was in fact looking at a green Mini Cooper, thus penalizing him a point and allowing Cheese a decisive “Pay Back” shot to the arm, and advancement to the finals.
The International bracket was not without its own controversy, as Argentinian champ Gustavo Schmidt made it by the Dutch Hans Peepers when Hans failed to call “No Punch Backs,” and Schmidt quickly took advantage, calling the exact same bug and then getting his own lick in for the equalizer. Schmidt would later advance into the finals by taking out the Japanese Honda Toyota, whose miracle run ended when he correctly called a Punch Buggy Blue first but then missed with the punch, allowing Schmidt’s superior reach advantage a chance to whistle a shot right back.
After a week of in depth tournament analysis on Versus, the Finals were shown on NBC, with Bob Costas and Roy Jones Jr. doing the commentary, though the hard core fans were vocally upset at the network’s refusal to air it live, instead watering it down and packaging it all in “human interest stories” for its prime time audience of newbies. They however got a good show, as the local favorite from San Onofre, eleven-year-old Sputnik Monroe’s Cinderella season continued with a beating of Eddie Cheese. The screen filled with his bio. His favorite professional Punch Buggier: Mitch Blood Green. His favorite punch buggie color: Purple, like the arms of his fellow competitors. In the finals, Monroe got the drop on Scmidt, getting off three consecutive shots and calling the colors, even before one of the VWs had even come into sight, guessing “Chartreuse” because he could hear from the engine tone that it was a special color model only built in Bulgaria.
Congratulations to Sputnik Monroe, who receives the coveted Golden Fist trophy, and makes all of San Onofre stand erect in excitement!
Grote2DMax will be covering the Out-of-State-License-Plate-Game Olympics tomorrow.