RetRollSpective – Raspberry Racers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, a series that reflects on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to race on over to Raspberry Racers, a team which debuted in the 2018 Winter Marble League and are the champions of the 2019 Marble League.

The logo for the Raspberry Racers, designed by Tim Ritz.

Though they are one of the newest teams in the Marble League, the Raspberry Racers competed for years in the now-defunct Fruit Circuit. The Fruit Circuit was an untelevised marble sports series that ran until 2016, when the Marble League rose to fame. The Raspberry Racers competed alongside infamous marble teams such as O’rangers, Mellow Yellow, and Limers, developing a tense rivalry with the latter team.

The Bakker brothers reserved three spots for the circuit’s teams to compete for when the Fruit Circuit shut down. In the final event of the Fruit Circuit, which was an outdoor race through a winery in southern Europe, Raspberry Racers were in second overall when they overshot a curve and went out of bounds. Their DNF allowed both Mellow Yellow and the O’rangers to slot into second and third place, respectively, behind the Limers in first, shutting out Raspberry Racers from competing in the 2016 Marble League.

The team was understandably disappointed. After firing Barry, the racer who did not finish the last Fruit Circuit race, the remaining four members of the team took a trip to Rubow, the raspberry capital of the world, to visit their families, drink some raspberry syrup, and overall to get away from the Marble League. The Raspberry Racers ended up disbanding sometime during this period, but its former members began taking interest in the Hubelino Tournament, which was slated to air after the Marble League.

Razzy and Rozzy joined the Bluefastics while Rezzy and Rizzy joined the Valiant Violets. The two teams performed modestly throughout the tournament, which originally ran for eight events but was extended to twelve, running before and after the 2017 Marble League. In the original eight events, both teams scored at least one gold medal and made the podium at least one other time, but did not perform well overall. The Valiant Violets placed last overall and the Bluefastics placed sixth.

Unbeknownst to the fans, however, Razzy, Rozzy, Rezzy, and Rizzy were training together to try out for the 2018 Winter Marble League. The four reformed Raspberry Racers and recruited Ruzzy as their fifth member. When asked about the reformation, Barry said:

“I’m happy for them, you know, Razzy and the others. I think they’ll do well. I just wish they thought to reach out to me.”

The Raspberry Racers declined to comment, as they were well into training. Just a little over a month after the Hubelino Tournament ended, Razzy, Rozzy, Rezzy, and Rizzy had officially left their Hubelino teams and donned their fuchsia colors for the 2018 Winter Marble League Draw. Commentator Greg Woods introduced them in the video, stating:

“They have a long history going back with the Limers, the two of them, so ideally they would like to be in separate groups, although some might say they want to be in the same just to knock each other out before they even make it…”

This referenced the Limers’ first place victory in the final Fruit Circuit, which secured their spot in the 2016 Marble League. Oddly, Woods did not mention the Racers’ rivalry with the other two fruit teams, but that was because they were not competing in qualifications. The Raspberry Racers placed into Group C and scored modestly in the following events until the 5m Ice Dash, where they got a first place in their group, and the Halfpipe where they got third place in the group. This put the Raspberry Racers second in the overall group with twenty-two points, enough to qualify for the 2018 Winter Marble League. The Limers, however, were also in Group C, and they, too, qualified for competition with twenty-one points. The Fruit Circuit was back.

The Raspberry Racers' first Marble League opening ceremony, at the start of the 2018 season.

The Racers placed in the lower half of the standings throughout the first four events of the 2018 Winter Marble League; it was not until their fourth place run in Speed Skating that the team got a glimpse at the limelight of being in the top 10. The Raspberry Racers had a pivotal moment in the next event, Team Pursuit, which put them against Limers in the semifinal. The two rival teams were neck-and-neck throughout the match, by hundredths of seconds, but it was ultimately Raspberry Racers that finally harnessed their synergy to race across the finish line, two-hundredths of a second before the Limers’ third racer did. Although the Racers lost out to the Snowballs by a mere four-hundredths of a second in the finals, it didn’t matter to the Racers. Razzy said of the event:

“It felt amazing. Our team has come a long way since we’ve been training for the ML, but we never felt like we were in sync with each other until that semifinal. That made us feel like a team again, just like in the old days. In that moment, we knew we’d made the right choice to reunite and come back.”

The Raspberry Racers' first medal.

The Raspberry Racers came away with a silver medal from Team Pursuit, rising into fifth place overall. With this, the team emerged as one of the most notable of the rookie teams, beginning to gain support as Hazers had before them. In the eighth event, Snowboard Cross, Rozzy got first in the Heat race with Sublime of the Limers closely following behind. This put both teams in the final, however, the Raspberry Racers tired out in that race, getting seventh place while the Limers got their first gold medal of the season. The two teams faced each other again in the Curling quarterfinals, where Rozzy got revenge on Sublime, knocking him off the target and securing a 2-0 victory for the Racers. When interviewed about the play, Sublime simply shook his self,

“Personally, I thought she made a really dirty move. And if we’re being honest, I don’t understand this rivalry between us. It’s not like we’re the team that took their spot in the 2016 Marble League. They messed up, and we were already in first!”

Interestingly enough, the Raspberry Racers went up against the O’rangers in the third place round, the very team that shut them out of the final designated spot for the Fruit Circuit. The Racers edged ahead by one point, earning a bronze medal for Curling. The final three events did not bode as well for the team except for the final event, where they scored fifth place. The Raspberry Racers finished in eighth overall for the 2018 Winter Marble League, an impressive feat for the rookie team.

The Raspberry Racers had an active offseason as well in their rookie year. In the Amazing Maze Marble Race, they competed with all of the Marble League teams, qualified and not, in a Hubelino race with all four members of each team. The team made it to the finals rather easily, where they went up against not only the Limers, but the O’rangers and Savage Speeders. Though the O’rangers got two marbles in first and second place, the Raspberry Racers followed closely behind in third, fourth, seventh, and eleventh, where the other two O’rangers ended up in tenth and fifteenth. The Racers’ consistency and teamwork were what paved the way for their victory in the Amazing Maze Marble Race.

Foreshadowing...we love to see it.

The team declined to rejoin the Bluefastics and Valiant Violets, wishing the two teams the best of luck in the 2018 Hubelino Tournament as the Raspberry Racers trained for the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers with a new coach, Berry. The team began Qualifiers on an admittedly sour note, finishing in second-to-last in Funnel Spinning and only earning one point. Fans were relieved, then, when the Racers earned fifteen points in Block Pushing, finishing in fourth place and putting them one point behind Team Momo in twelfth place. There was a path to qualification.

The third event, Relay Race, brought drama between the Raspberry Racers and their competition. Though the team finished first in their heat and added twelve points to their total, the Racers’ fans got involved in a fight with Primary fans when Mary did not finish the race, resulting in a DNF. Ironically enough, Barry (who is unrelated to the Racers’ new coach) was in the stands when he noticed Primary fans coming at him:

            “In the moment, it was just so bizarre. I couldn’t understand why Team Primary’s fans were mad at us when Limers fans were the ones throwing the debris onto the tracks. They were probably mad because of our ‘rivalry’ with Limers. It’s a shame they had to create new rivals to get their anger out.”

The fight initiated by Team Primary fans in the stands of the 2019 Qualifiers.

It was perhaps poetic justice, then, when the Raspberry Racers comfortably succeeded in qualifying for the 2019 Marble League in eighth place. With a new logo in hand, the Raspberry Racers entered a season in which they would dominate, rise to the top, and never let up. The team was one of three teams that never left the top five during the season; the other two teams were the Hazers and Green Ducks, teams that would consistently challenge the Racers throughout the season for victory.

The team rose to significance in the second event, Funnel Race, when Razzy, now team captain, came just short of winning the event. Although Razzy was able to stay in the final funnel for an impressive thirty-four seconds, outlasting every other marble that passed through, the Savage Speeders took their second gold medal in a row against the Raspberry Racers.

The Savage Speeders had an unprecedented lead after only the second event with fifty points to their name, and the Raspberry Racers were nineteen points behind in second place. In the next event, a fourteenth place finish in Balancing brought the team down to fifth place while the Hazers moved up to second and finally wrestled first place from the Savage Speeders at the end of the fifth event. The team did earn a silver medal in the Gravitrax Slalom, a team event, but placed ninth with Rozzy’s performance in the 5 Meter Sprint and returned once more to fifth overall.

Seeing the Raspberry Racers on the podium was a common occurrence during the 2019 season.

The Raspberry Racers earned a bronze medal in the Relay Run and another bronze medal in the Summer Biathlon, which, along with a fourth place finish in Block Pushing, elevated the team to the top of the standings. The Racers closed out the first half of the season by earning medals in four out of the eight events, practicing unparalleled consistency to stay in the game. Rizzy, the Racer who competed in the Summer Biathlon, was cautiously optimistic:

            “I think there’s no denying that the training that we’ve put in is paying off, but that in no way means that we’re going to coast to victory during the rest of the season. There are fifteen other teams that want this as badly as we do, and we need to give everything we’ve got if we want to win this year.”

The ninth event, Hurdles, matched this sentiment, as Razzy picked up his second silver medal of the season. As the next few events went on, the Raspberry Racers noticed that there was one team that was consistently getting in front of them: the Green Ducks. This became most apparent for the team when the Ducks got second in front of the Racers’ third in the Dirt Race, and earned their second gold medal in Rafting above of the Racers’ finish in sixth. Although the Raspberry Racers had earned six medals, the Ducks, with their equally consistent finishes in the top four of most events, retook the lead with four events to go.

            “Our strong point is working together in team events, but we fell short in Rafting. We had high expectations for ourselves and from the fans. Once the Green Ducks broke the ML record in front of us, the stakes rose even higher, and we did not react well to that,” Ruzzy admitted.

This graphic, created by FlameVapour, illustrates the Ducks' fanbase expanding after Qualifiers.

The Green Ducks retook first place in the standings, being the first team to do so in the season. Fans likened the power struggle between the two teams to the rivalry between the Limers and the Raspberry Racers, a coincidence made only more ironic due to the Green Ducks’ lime green color. When asked about this, Coach Berry chuckled:

            “I obviously wasn’t a part of the team when the competition between the Limers and the Raspberry Racers was at its peak, but I can promise you that our relationship isn’t like that with the Green Ducks. We have a lot of respect for the Ducks. They’re the best rookie team since the Savage Speeders in 2016, and they deserved to get on the podium this year. There’s nothing wrong with a little competition, though, especially when it’s over the championship.”

Ultimately, Rezzy was the marble who would represent the Raspberry Racers in the Elimination Race and the marble athlete who would define which team could secure the championship. Her team had a lot to prove—that they wanted victory, that they were going to do everything in their power to keep their fight alive and finish strong. Up to this point, the Racers had yet to earn a gold medal—ever—in the Marble League.

The Raspberry Racers' first gold medal in their team history.

“It was truly one of the hardest races I’ve ever run, one that even the best athletes couldn’t finish. When I got stuck during one of the final races, I, too, was ready to accept my fate,” Rezzy shrugged. “Diego rolling into me was a matter of chance. It was a shame that he didn’t get into the final race, too, though. I owe the mere opportunity to earn that gold medal to him. The rest? Everything I learned throughout the eight races prior, prior training, and again, luck, is how I earned our first gold medal. I, more than anything, am grateful.”

The Racers still remained in second after the event, but a fourth place finish in Surfing allowed the team to retake the lead in the standings. The Raspberry Racers finished one place ahead of the Green Ducks in Collision, and, remaining as consistent as they had throughout the entire season, earned a bronze medal with Razzy’s performance in the Sand Rally to finish the 2019 Marble League with a total of 216 points and eight medals to their name.

The Raspberry Racers had won the 2019 Marble League.

"The Raspberry Racers, as robust as can be, are your 2019 Marble League champions!"

“I can’t overstate how badly we’ve wanted this to happen,” Razzy, who won Best Individual Marble as well, remarked. “It’s a testament to how much we’ve been improving over every single year, from not qualifying in the Fruit Circuit, to being separated as a team, to coming together, harmonizing, and pulling through to the end. I couldn’t be prouder of my team, and it’s an even bigger honor to know for sure that we’ll be appearing in next year’s tournament as well. Our work is far from over.”

            “You know, seeing how happy they were, and how thrilled we, the fans were…I’ve forgiven them,” Barry admitted. “Everything happens for a reason. I’m not sure I could have ever seen myself competing in the Marble League, and I like where my career is now. I’m more than happy to cheer on the Raspberry Racers from the sidelines, especially if they’re going to keep doing as well as they just did. #RaspberryRobust, everyone!”

The team, prequalified for the 2020 Marble League, was harvesting raspberries from the Von Neuman Farm in Tumbletown, a town on the outskirts of Rubow, when they received an official letter from the JMRC. The letter invited the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One alongside the three other Marble League champions and Fruit Circuit teams. The Raspberry Racers accepted the invitation and were revealed as the thirteenth team on 01 December 2019. The Racers submitted Razzy, “Rider In Rose”, and Rezzy, “Framboise Flash”, to represent the team. The team’s reveal poster depicts the two rolling through the farm casually, as the sun sets on the horizon behind them. The farm was visible from the top of the Razzway during the seventh Grand Prix, which the team was selected to host.

The fields of Tumbletown are a growing tourist destination for their natural colors and beauty extending out from the city of Rubow.

Razzy qualified well in his debut at the Savage Speedway Grand Prix on 15 February 2020 at sixth place. Although he was unable to get into the lead, he rose into the top five towards the end of the second lap, peaking in fourth place before dropping out of the top five. Razzy finished the race in seventh place, just ahead of Mallard, and earned six points for the team.

Rezzy debuted in the O’raceway Grand Prix on 22 February 2020 with the Racers’ highest qualifying position of the season—third with a time of 31,02 seconds, thirty-eight seconds ahead of Limelime. She began the race in third before the sand section, where she fell out of the top five and then reclaimed fifth. Rezzy advanced to fourth upon Wospy’s fall from the conveyor belt and then to second in the fifth lap, trailing Billy, but quickly fell behind to Smoggy and began falling from the top five. Rezzy finished the race in eighth, below Billy, Smoggy, and even Limelime—earning four points. At the end of the first quarter of the season, the Raspberry Racers were in eighth overall.

Unfortunately for the Raspberry Racers, the team never rebounded—if they had ever bounded. Razzy placed outside of the top ten in both the Momotorway and Short Circuit, thus going scoreless in half of his appearances. Rezzy earned more than double the amount of points as Razzy, qualifying and finishing the race in sixth at the Hivedrive and placing tenth in Greenstone despite qualifying in twelfth.

Razzy, trailing in last, was able to make up ground in his final M1 race and finish strong.

Razzy finished his Marbula One season in Tumbletown, where he finished in ninth after qualifying in fourteenth at the Razzway. The Grand Prix was notorious for the season’s only red flag, which occurred after officials conducted a thorough check of the track, and a fan invasion prior to the race restart. Despite rumors, Coach Berry confirmed in a post-race interview that the rogue fan was not Barry.

Rezzy’s seventh place finish in the Midnight Bay Grand Prix helped lift the team above the Limers to finish in fourteenth overall with a total of twenty-seven points.

            “I think that the fans need to understand, regardless of where teams and drivers place in these standings, that there is such a big difference between competing in the Marble League and Marbula One,” Coach Berry stated. “Marbula One doesn’t have team events or heats leading up to a final—it has laps. Speed. Endurance. Perseverance. Razzy and Rezzy both have those skills, and you know that from how they did in the Marble League. They just weren’t ready to translate them into Marbula One this season. But we’ll be back.”

In RetRollSpective, the Raspberry Racers have come a long way since their beginnings in the Fruit Circuit. The reunion of the team brought energy into the Marble League that drove them into the top ten for the 2018 season, led them to win the Amazing Maze Marble Race in an upset over more established teams, and, as robust as could be, claimed the championship in the 2019 Marble League by medaling in half of its events and competing consistently to the best of its ability. Best of luck to the Raspberry Racers in the 2020 Marble League, keep on rolling!

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