This American Life recently ran a story on this annual contest held by a car dealership in Longview, Texas. 24 people stand around a truck, when the whistle blows they must keep their hand on the truck. The last one standing with their hand on the truck wins the truck.

[You can watch Hands on a Hard Body for free here. Just make it full screen so it's not so little.]

Each contestant gets a 5 minute break every hour and a 15 minute break every 6 hours. Since only one hand on the truck is necessary, contestants spend their time doing lots of other things. Some read books, play Connect 4 or listen to tapes. You can not squat, lean on the truck, or rest your legs unless it is a break. If you lift your hand for a second you are out.

This movie is fantastic. It had everything I was looking for -

People with no teeth. (Check.)
Religious zealots. (Check.)
Sore losers. (Check.)
Emotional outbursts by people with strong Texas accents. (Check.)

Spoiler Alert. The best part is when people drop out of the competition. One person scratches her head with both hands and is kicked off. Then people start losing their mind. Someone leans down to pet an imaginary dog. Out! When it is down to the final two people, the religious woman who has been praying and singing hymns for 70 hours straight, absent-mindedly raises both her hands to say "Hallelujah!" along with members of her church congregation who came down to cheer her on. She's out. The man who has won doesn't realize the contest is over because he is so delirious.

Sadly, the competition was cancelled in 2005 when a contestant left the car, walked into a nearby K-mart and shot himself. I'm actually surprised this didn't happen earlier. The movie shows people walking away from the car, into the dark, clearly hallucinating from no sleep.

If anything, I always thought a contest like this would be really easy, but now, after seeing Hands on a Hard Body, I have no desire to try any sort of copy cat contest. A new car would be nice, but not that nice.



  1. haha, wow when I saw the title of this post I was a little nervous for what kind of "movie" you were reviewing... this looks awesome! I love watching someone besides me loose their mind. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I watched the first 20 min before work today and I am HOOKED. I cant wait to hurry up and get home so I can watch the rest of it.

  3. THAT IS HILARIOUS. IT's just like that one episode of "My Name is Earl" (which I am not ashamed to admit I watch). Only I never knew it actually drove people to suicide. Too bad.

  4. You should check out The King of Kong, too. I can tell it won't disappoint you. It's the documentary of two video game ubergeeks battling it out over the world Donkey Kong record. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0923752/)

  5. Hi, thanks for linking to my site. I agree with Jacksons, King of Kong is a must-see too. You can now watch it here:


  6. But are there any rules about trying to pry other contestants off the truck?



Related Posts with Thumbnails