His reputation preceded him.
Jim Fletcher is the mastermind behind such cardboard constructions as a replica gondola car and a replica Hummer. On Saturday, Fletcher was the mastermind behind the replica race car made famous in the box office movie hit "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."
"I give myself at least three weeks for construction," Fletcher said. "My secret is time."
The fact that Fletcher's secret isn't materialistic may be music to the ears of competitors hoping to upend Fletcher in a dash to construct the best cardboard classic craft. But remember - Fletcher takes several weeks to build his competitive vehicle when most of his competition put their crafts together the night before the event.
Saturday, there apparently were plenty of both in the more than 75 crafts registered.
"I did 95 percent of the structure," Fletcher said, standing near his Wonder Bread race car.
On Saturday, beneath a mix of overcast and sunny skies, at least 1,000 people were gathered on Headwall at the Steamboat Ski Area to either participate in Saturday's 27th annual Cardboard Classic or to watch.
Few would argue there are events as unique - and quirky - as the Cardboard Classic.
"This is probably the most random thing you could think of," said eighth-grader Erin Duran.
The randomness - and creativity - of Saturday's event may be the reason behind its increasing popularity. Erin and friends Anna Poirot, Kayla DeLancey, Sophie Abate and Morgan Mertz are famous for being the Girl Scouts who sell cookies at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.
According to the girls, "business is good," and on Saturday the girls returned the favor to the ski area for allowing them to sell cookies by making a cardboard cell phone - something easy for eighth-grade and seventh-grade girls to have a personal relationship with.
"We spent four days on it," said Sophie of the fuchsia cell phone. The girls added getting the flip part of the flip phone to stay up was the most difficult part of the construction.
In addition to being "random," the Cardboard Classic is one event where area children can mix with area adults in a competition for best craft, most unique craft, best duplication of a real object craft, etc.
Marc Wettermann, a five-year veteran of Cardboard Classic, gave up his replicas of Star Wars ships for a 20-foot steamboat-turned-pirate-ship Saturday. It weighed nearly 300 pounds and took nearly 100 hours to make, Wettermann estimated.
"Good Lord, I stocked up on cardboard for weeks," Wettermann said. "The infrastructure is four-by-four beams I made out of cardboard."
His craft went nowhere, brought down by massive weight, and the fact it barely fit on the race track on Headwall.
Anyone familiar with Cardboard Classic may remember last year's pencil, which flew down Headwall in such quick fashion it drew cheers and applause. This year, engineer John Rohde credited his daughter Aubrey Rohde with the idea of a champagne bottle, touting Steamboat's famous Champagne Powder.
The bottle flew down the mountain, again confirming Rohde's engineering prowess, with balloons acting as bubbles training behind the bottle.
"Look at the label," Rohde said pointing to the test on the champagne bottle.
It said: Contents - 5 small children.
There were replicas of Dumpsters that several members of the "Rainbow People" dove into, cardboard homes called affordable housing and houseboats calling other famous ski mountains in Colorado not as cool as Steamboat.
Aboard the "S.S. Vail Sucks," Tamra Malczyk poured champagne early Saturday.
All who were on the yacht were in agreement that now the mountain has changed owners from American Skiing Co. to Intrawest, Cardboard Classic is an event that should never go away.
- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com