Turtle Racing at Brennan's Pub


I have jumped out of a plane. I've run the New York City marathon. And now I can finally cross another major life accomplishment off my bucket list... 

I have participated in a turtle race. 

I'm only half joking... while turtle racing at Brennan's Pub in Marina Del Ray is not exactly a lifetime achievement, I can now proudly check it off of my LA To Do List.

Every Thursday night, two hundred or so drunken twentysomethings gather at Brennan's Pub for their infamous turtle racing, a tradition that has gone on for over 40 years. Brennan's is your typical divey Irish pub: darts, a mediocre cover band, and all the beer your heart desires.

But with a twist: the turtles.

Every Thursday night, Brennan's hosts turtle racing where you too can race your very own turtle. You can bring your own or rent one of theirs for $5 (cash only).

When they're ready to start renting turtles, they will hold up a white board saying so. Onlookers rush to form a line, so don't be shy!

Upon renting your turtle, you'll give it a name. They'll rent turtles out until all the races have filled up, with the same turtles racing multiple times each night under multiple different names.

Then you'll go find a good seat for the show. A good seat is important since you won't be called up in the order that you rented your turtle... it's totally randomized, so it could be a while.

We are talking about turtles after all.

The turtle racing arena in a moment of calm before the storm

Would-be turtle racers checking out their turtle options in the tanks

As I would soon come to find, the novelty of turtle racing is not the main reason that the masses head to Brennan's... it's the ladies who are racing the turtles. 

See there are a few rules at Brennan's: 1. Don't point at the turtles or you will be fined (really), 2. Don't be a douchebag (dubbed the "Tom Brady rule"for 2017.. they regularly rename it after different iconic douchebags), and 3. If you're racing a turtle, you can't bend your knees when placing your turtle at the "starting line". If you do (and even if you don't), you will have a foul flag thrown at you and you'll have to pick your turtle up and do it all over again. And again. Possibly from different angles. 

This third rule means that if you are a hot female in your twenties, you may have guys rent turtles and ask you to race it for them. It also means that you will have "Drop It Like It's Hot" blasted over the loudspeaker while you place your turtle in the ring and will mostly have foul flags thrown at you left and right. 

But luckily! If you are a female in your thirties you are virtually invisible and will only have to do it once!

No bended knees here, refs!

All joking aside, I was really glad that they didn't hassle me. Here I was, an unsuspecting blogger doing it for the novelty, for the experience! Totally naive to the fact that this was an activity with vastly ulterior motives. What a world!

Once all the turtles were placed into the ring, the ref came over and pulled it off to start the race. The first turtle to cross the outer ring, a white painted line, "wins" the race. If the refs catch an onlooker pointing, they'll throw a flag, fine the onlooker, grab the turtles and restart the race. 

The "winner" (though I honestly have no idea how they tell them apart, the turtles all look the same), gets a blue ribbon and the opportunity to select a random prize out of a sack, like a snowglobe or some other irrelevant trinket. You win that and the unexpected but immense satisfaction from having crushed such a public competition. 

Sadly, I did not get to experience the thrill of winning a turtle race. Though I can't be sure, I do think my turtle came in second, confirming what I have always suspected to be true. 

Slow and steady does not win the race. 

Brennan's Pub
Phone: (310) 821-6622
4089 Lincoln Blvd
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292