Curious about how to win in the next turtle race at Danny’s, or any other pub or bar near you… “dive” into this article and learn a bit more about how to beat the best in this unique competitive pass-time!


In the world of television, sometimes the most unexpected elements can become iconic symbols of a show’s essence. One such example is the quirky turtle races featured in the first season of the beloved series “Quincy M.E.” In episode 6, titled “Hit and Run at Danny’s,” we see the titular character, Dr. Quincy, visiting a local dive bar called Danny’s, which is based on a Marina Del Rey bar and restaurant. What’s even more fascinating is that Brennan’s Pub, located in Marina Del Rey, is famous for its weekly turtle races – a tradition that has been going on for decades. But how did turtle races become a popular pastime, and what’s the history behind this quirky entertainment? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of turtle racing.

The Bahamian Origins

Turtle racing might seem like an unusual pastime, but its roots trace back to the early 20th century in The Bahamas. While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact date of the first turtle race, these events quickly became a beloved tradition among locals and tourists alike. The slow and deliberate movement of turtles made for an amusing spectacle, and over time, it evolved into a competitive sport.

Turtle Races in the United States

The craze eventually crossed the ocean and found its way to the United States. The earliest known turtle race in the U.S. occurred in Chicago in 1902. While the concept was initially met with skepticism, it gradually gained popularity, becoming a mainstay of entertainment at local bars and restaurants. People were drawn to the humor, unpredictability, and sheer uniqueness of watching turtles “race” towards a finish line.

Credit: Eric Chan

Brennan’s Pub: A Legacy of Turtle Races

Located on Lincoln Avenue, right near Washington, Brennan’s Pub in Marina Del Rey is a quintessential dive bar with a neon sign that beckons patrons to experience its legendary turtle races. Astonishingly, Brennan’s has been hosting these races for 38 years, with the tradition starting in the same year the Vietnam War ended.

The Turtle Race Experience at Brennan’s

Participating in Brennan’s turtle races is not as simple as showing up and watching. To join the excitement, you must sign up approximately 30 minutes before the race. Once registered, a charismatic host will enthusiastically call out your name and your turtle’s name, bringing an air of competition to the event.

However, there are rules to follow. Notably, if you’re female, you must bend from the hips when placing your turtle in the starting bin. Bending from the knees is considered a foul. These rules, while peculiar, add to the unique charm of the event.

As the race begins, participants eagerly watch as their turtles make their slow but steady way towards the circular finish line, all while trying to avoid pointing at them. Pointing is strictly prohibited, not only because it supposedly scares the turtles but also because it’s a source of revenue for Brennan’s – they fine you for each infraction.

The Rewards of Victory

Winning the race at Brennan’s comes with its own set of rewards. Aside from bragging rights that last a lifetime, the victor receives a ribbon, a random item from a 99-cent store, and, of course, more bragging rights.

Credit: Wendy Berry

After the Races: Time for Drinks and Music

What follows the excitement of the turtle races at Brennan’s? The answer is simple: drinking and music. The bar offers a chance to unwind, enjoy a drink or two, and perhaps even dance to a just-okay cover band. It’s the perfect way to cap off an evening filled with unique entertainment.


The legacy of turtle races, from their origins in The Bahamas to their continued popularity at places like Brennan’s Pub in Marina Del Rey, (established 5 years before this episode of QME aired) showcases the intriguing and often whimsical ways in which local traditions become an integral part of our culture. While “Quincy M.E.” might have introduced us to this peculiar pastime, places like Brennan’s have kept the tradition alive, reminding us that sometimes the most unusual forms of entertainment can become timeless classics. So, if you find yourself in Marina Del Rey on a Thursday night, don’t miss the chance to witness the slow and steady excitement of turtle races at Brennan’s – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

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