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Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
2013 Race Report



Here's a Sculpture!
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Saturday 4 May 2013

What a spectacular day in Baltimore! In perfect weather, a record 31 teams raced 38 sculptures (plus 1 team who came without their sculpture after it met an untimely end along US-40). Two volunteers who met at the mud pit for an earlier race became engaged after Fifi brought the ring for a very kinetic proposal. The American Visionary Art Museum ensured that scores of volunteers helped thousands of spectators have a fun, exciting, and safe day. Thematic coincidence also provided two dinosaur sculptures, two crab sculptures, two dedicated to Rube Goldberg, and two costumed Fred Flintstones. Brand-new teams competed with veteran wonders on the 14-mile racecourse over pavement, harbor, sand, and mud.

To see others’ coverage of the race, or to tell others about your race experiences, be sure to check out the Kinetic Forum.

Champion: Eek!

Winner of the 2013 Grand Mediocre East Coast Championship is Eek!, an amphibious human-powered oversized Rube Goldberg mousetrap. The mouse on the trailer rotated round and round.

Completing the morning southern loop, Eek! passed the Kinetic Host American Visionary Art Museum along Key Highway.

Entering the water is far easier than exiting; Eek!’s smooth water exit exemplified the robust engineering needed for a solid kinetic sculpture.

For sand and mud, their tire covers didn't provide enough traction to avoid having to push—pushing disqualifies a team from receiving an ACE, but not from the Championship.

In previous years, this team from Takoma Park created:



Dr. Vlad’s Mad Lab

Four pilots powered Dr. Vlad’s Mad Lab in commemoration of Dr. Vladisky, claimed inventor of Baltimore’s most famous beer recipe (now known as Natty Boh, but originally Natty Vlad). His ingenious combination of sculptural textures from shiny goggle lenses to scruffy beard whiskers won it the Art award, and energetic design with sound engineering led fellow teams to award it Pilots’ Choice.

Until the 2014 race, Dr. Vlad is on display at the American Visionary Art Museum to awe and inspire.

The Doctor’s pinky was covered with sand for the rest of the race.



Agogosaurus

The return of Agogosaurus seemed to master the kinetic racecourse even more completely than in 2012. This sculpture also completed the 42-mile 2012 Kinetic Grand Championship in Humboldt County, California.

In Baltimore, the sand is fairly flat; in California it is a miles-long Pacific beach, the sand includes dramatic hills that have demolished the ACE hopes of many a kinetic racer. Incorporating lessons learned from California, Agogosaurus handily won an ACE in Baltimore, and also won Baltimore’s coveted Engineering award.

The gnarly tires include a central smooth, hard insert to dramatically reduce rolling resistance on pavement but transition easily to sand and mud.

Pilots celebrate as they complete the mud crossing without the need of any assistance, or even a pause.

Brandon Emmons—shown here holding the 2013 Engineering trophy—also created the Jemicy School’s Kinetic Sculpture Racing Course, available online and linked from the Build Your Own Entry! page.



Holy Grail

Holy Grail was a last-minute entry based on the Monty Python film (rather than any actual crusade).

The amphibious castle leaned ominously to and fro, but did not capsize. Their bribes were oregano and herb plants, reminiscent of the movie’s shrubbery.

For their distinctive costumes including a fur-clad knight and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, Holy Grail received Best Costumes award.

Every sculpture is required to carry a sock creature. Theirs was a manifestation of the Legendary Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh, and handily won Sock Creature of the Universe.



Back Alley Farm

A new team from Washington DC created Back Alley Farm to commemorate urban gardening: sustainability and environmentalism, a misguided do-it-yourself spirit and other hipster ideals, not to mention rats and alley cats.

“Vegetation without Representation” recasts the Revolutionary War slogan used by Washington DC where citizens pay federal taxes yet have no representatives or senators, so the District’s laws are political pawns of Congressional manipulation.

Their celebration of locally-sourced agriculture won the Chipotle Green award.



Not So Angry Bird & Tony’s Trampoline

Not So Angry Bird completed an anger management course and now uses his slingshot trampoline to launch souvenirs into the crowd. The wings flapped independently.

“Ah, hing it! With all this traffic on the water, I'll go by land instead.”

“This isn’t any better!” Despite all the traffic, the red not-so-angry bird seemed to find a fast way to the finish line. He won the Speed award for fastest time after accounting for time penalties from tickets.

Tony’s Trampoline also completed the racecourse—although as a bush league entry and bypassing the sand and mud.

This is the seventh time Tony Walker and team have competed in the Kinetic Race:



Loose Cannon & the Gun Show Collective

Team 1,800 Lbs brought back the spectacular 12-foot wheels of Loose Cannon with the circus human cannonball motif.

The elevated pilots’ platform—which looks to be a rowboat—provides flotation for the water segment.

Since this sculpture nearly missed major awards, yet is a magnificent crowd- and photographer-pleasing spectacle we also award this sculpture the Webmaster’s Delight.

They also built two new sculptures as scale replicas of the original. Since the new sculptures could hardly get any bigger, they made them smaller. The half-scale Sun of a Gun and quarter-scale Mini Gun formed one group at the starting line, called the Gun Show Collective.

Cans jangled behind Sun of a Gun with a “Just Married” sign to commemorate the recent nuptials of pilots Kristin and Dave.

Lubrication on turnbuckle threads ruined their pre-race spoke truing. The cobblestones around the National Katyn Memorial wrought havoc on the tensioners, and a pilot here twists them tighter—but accurately truing 12-foot wheels during a race is as hard as it sounds. They ended up winning the Next-to-Last award, which rather precludes the potential of winning an engineering award.

Recommended for next year: mouse the turnbuckles.

In the mud, one of the pilots climbed from spoke to spoke like a ladder using his weight for additional propulsion.

The Collective came from 1800 Lbs, which in past years created



Go Ask Alice

For its fantastic colossal spectacularity, Go Ask Alice from Millersville (and Lewis Carroll) again won People’s Choice, based on a spectator survey conducted by race volunteers.

2013 is the fourth time Go Ask Alice has competed, and its third People’s Choice Award:

  • 2012
  • 2010 (winner of the People’s Choice and Pilots’ Choice awards)
  • 2011 (winner of the People’s Choice award)



Frednan

In a novel sort of entry, Frednan re-created Fred Flintstone’s steamroller-wheel car. Pilot Adnan Khera of Baltimore completed the entire racecourse in good spirits.

“This is Motorcycle Unit #34. We’ve got another Fred Flintstone on Boston Street.”

For the insanity to create this sculpture (albeit breaking Race Rule #6 and the 8% Total Body Wetness Rule) and walking the entire racecourse, Frednan received the Spirit of the Glorious Founder award.



Greendustrial Revolution

After 250 years of industrialization, the earth spawned Greendustrial Revolution, whose saw blade breaks up impervious surfaces and restores green space.

The swiveling saw loomed menacingly over the pier.

In Patterson Park, Greendustrial Revolution received a ticket for “Being Green to a Fault”, but the time penalty was reduced to 5 minutes after they produced a bribe of green cookies.

You may recognize Greendustrial Revolution as one of these Amish-inspired entries from years gone by:



Jemicy’s You Know the Drill, Hammer Time, and Gut Wrencher

You Know the Drill was the largest of three sculptures from Baltimore’s Jemicy School. Like the other Jemicy entries, it achieved an ACE award.

The Gut Wrencher pilot discovered the chill of the harbor. Kinetic rules specify that no more than 8% of a pilot’s body can be wet from the water.

An unassisted exit from the water is one of the hardest steps to winning an ACE award—but Gut Wrencher did both smoothly.

The Hammertime pilot received coaching and encouragement—but no pushing—to complete the difficult mud section and also win an ACE.

ACE judges follow every ACE-eligible entry to ensure they follow the stringent additional rules. This judge has furry magenta horns.

Swapping out smoother pavement tires for gnarled mud tires.



Max’s Magic Bus

Six pilots propelled Max’s Magic Bus through the racecourse. It’s sponsored by Max’s Tavern on South Broadway in Fell’s Point, which raced Max’s Pride in 2012.

With a bit of pushing, the Magic Bus made it through the mud.

This long electric-powered pit crew wagon supported the human-powered bus.



Purple PLATYPUS

Returning for its ninth year and sporting a retro Ravens helmet was the spectacular PURPLE PLATYPUS (Prodigious Urban Riders Pressing the Limits of Endurance with a Personal Longrange All-Terrain Yacht Proven Un-Safe).

It’s powered by 8 pedallers, plus one steering up front.

Pilots and pit crew lined up on Federal Hill for the LeMans start.

With the lead pilot’s feet wrapped around the base of the nose funnel, PLATYPUS splashed into the harbor.

On Pokey’s back, XLVII commemorated Baltimore’s February super bowl victory.

Prior PLATYPUS presentations:

  • 2012
  • 2011 (Grand Champion)
  • 2010 (Best Pit Crew award)
  • 2009 (People’s Choice)
  • 2008
  • 2007 (Engineering award)
  • 2006 (Engineering and People’s Choice)
  • 2005 (Grand Champion)

and before that, David Hess created Louie the Dog:

  • 2004 (Golden Flipper award)
  • 2003 (Engineering award)


Steamed Punk

From Lansdowne High School, Steamed Punk is a steampunk celebration of the Chesapeake Blue Crab (after steaming).

For their efforts assisting their sculpture through various difficult sections of the racecourse, they were awarded Best Pit Crew.

Due to a lack of water steering, the sculpture was connected to a line held by a crew member on the pier.



Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express is the brainchild of a group of 11–14 year olds from Severna Park, commemorating Harry Potter’s train from King’s Cross Station, London to Hogwarts.

Here it passes AVAM in the morning.

The post at the water entry obstructed progress for a minute.



Tricyclotops

Tricyclotops was the more successful redesign of 2012’s Riot-N-Roll. The new aluminum wheel significantly reduced weight. The triceratops head atop the front axle commemorates last year’s Golden Dinosaur award.

Trefoil clawed feet appeared on each side of the 6-foot front wheel to keep it afloat.

The Rampmaster inspected carefully.

A second weld broke at the mud, and they were out of the race, much further than in 2012! A bit more progress for 2014 and they’ll be ready for the whole course.



Get Tanked

Get Tanked is precisely the sort of sculpture awarded Worst Honorable Mention. While they crossed the starting line intact and submitted as an ACE entry, they soon broke an axle and couldn’t move except via pushing.

But push they did, through the Inner Harbor and miles down Boston Street to the water entry, then up to Patterson Park and through sand and mud. Our understanding is that they ceased pushing after the mud.

This team from Gainesville and Bristow, Virginia, also created Bike to the Future in 2012—which won both ACE and Engineering awards in curious contrast.



Garden of Hedon

Check out those fish! Garden of Hedon from Baltimore’s own Make Believers team commemorates Druid Hill Park as Baltimore’s first center of genetic engineering. Millennia before Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland Biopark, druids danced across the hills and sorcerers commanded a fantastic menagerie.

Upon entering the water, the front fish presented more resistance to the water as the rear plowed forward, so the two components jackknifed at their universal joint. As they stopped to assess, the crowd presumed a cataclysmic fault and moaned sympathetically. However, all Garden of Hedon needed was to straighten out and proceed. (Proceeding proved a bit difficult as shown in the next photo).

They won the Golden Flipper award for their dramatic entry, in part because somehow no team suffered a worse fate at this year’s water entry.

This photo is rather boring, unless you’re building a sculpture and its paddlewheels happen to be completely out of the water. Even those lacking professional training in nautical propulsion should readily understand this sharply reduces effectiveness. Be sure to water-test your sculpture as it will ride during the race—especially with the weight of who and what you will be carrying—so you can calibrate your water propulsion not too high, and not too low.

Nearing the final turn to the finish line on Covington Street, they seemed surprisingly energetic.

This is the Make Believers’ twelfth glorious year. Their prior sculptures are:



OK Go

OK Go dressed as the band in the Rube Goldberg version of This Too Shall Pass, and had a functional contraption consisting of a cage track along which balls rolled, to be lofted by a screw of Archimedes. They received the Judges’ Fill-in-the-Blank award.



Byte Me

From the Goes to Eleven team arose Byte Me, illustrating how humanity is dependent on technology—whether oil, alcohol, electronics, or nuclear waste.

They won Best Bribes for the eggs they gave to judges and other officials.

Goes To Eleven in previous years has raced:



Desdemona Duck

When the race started, Desdemona Duck did not. They lingered behind until all other sculptures left the American Visionary Art Museum. After amputating their duck’s tail, they began the race. For this breakdown before the starting line, they received the Golden Dinosaur award.

Desdemona was created by a new team from the Philadelphia area.

At the water entry, they demonstrated a novel transition plan from land to sea. After removing one of the two tandem bicycles, they tipped Desdemona onto her side, and everyone realized that the largest of the yellow objects was an inflatable raft, into which they climbed and paddled with oars. Surprisingly few saw this coming.



AMS Crab

Arbutus Middle School created the AMS Crab, a giant 4-pilot Chesapeake Bay blue crab.

For the water entry, they added a large foam wall on each side. Unfortunately, these walls acted as unsteerable sails and keels, and the middle schoolers started to be blown out to sea before the kayak safety patrol towed them back to shore.

This was their second year entering; in 2012, they raced the AMS KiNestic.



Red Baron Sails

Red Baron Sails was based on the Peanuts comic strip more than on Manfred von Richthofen. The Fokker Dr.I triplane included Snoopy (as the kinetic race’s mandatory sock puppet) flying his Sopwith Camel doghouse. It’s the creation of a Bel Air team new to kinetic racing.

Clearly intended for flight, the low-ground clearance front barrel dragged through the sand and mud.



Crusader Gator

Don't miss the giant friction tread brake above the front wheels. Crusader Gator was built by Baltimore’s St. Paul School for Boys, with support from the adjacent St. Paul School for Girls.

They had an ACEworthy exit from the water, one of the most difficult parts of the entire race. They simply drove out of the water onto the uphill soggy slope.



Aluminum Falcon

Perhaps reminiscent of its occasionally cantankerous namesake, Aluminum Falcon consisted of 2 mountain bikes, created by a father-daughter team with a frame of slotted angle steel and 1x2 wood beams, plus cardboard, paint, and sharpie markers. It was entered as a Bush League sculpture, so it did not enter the water—but did traverse the mud.

Race date: May 4.



T-Wrecks

T-Wrecks returned from Crofton for the Street and Sapp families’ third entry after taking a year off in 2012. This time their dinosaur was The Flintstones’ purple pet Dino. In earlier years, they raced

Now that is a taco.

They’re sponsored by Cabinet Discounters.



Dad-A-Maran

With his son unavailable, Vance Lehmkuhl raced Dad-A-Maran to continue the legacy of the Dumpster Divers back to the original Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race in 1999.

The patented dorsal wash gently cleanses your back as you pedal.

Sand flew.



Halo

From Arlington, Virginia, Halo first raced in 2012. George and Mark pedaled with purple vests and top hats, but the rear-steering seemed somewhat awkward. This year, they did not make as far as the water entry.

This was the last sighting of Halo, heading away from Canton after the water entry. We hope it will return next year, perhaps enhanced.



Firebreather

Firebreather comes from the Odyssey School of Stevenson, Maryland, returning from a 2011 entry having changed from green to blue.



Piece of Cake

The Piece of Cake team from Takoma Park created a sculpture to go with these excellent helmets and cupcake bribes. But on the way to the race along US-40, it fell off the truck.

Nonetheless, after transferring their sculpture into an Ellicott City dumpster, they came to the race.

This is not the first sculpture to meet an untimely end falling off a truck. Remember to be kind to your sculpture and restrain it safely for transit!



AVAM’s Fifi, Bumpo, and Frog

The American Visionary Art Museum, as host of the Kinetic Sculpture Race, created Fifi in 2001 and she has raced annually every year since.

Bumpo the elephant was visited by space aliens in 2013, complete with green alien heads, alien crew, and a cow.

Having passed the Canton water safety check, AVAM’s Frog needed a bit of help to get to the water entry.

Huge dog on the loose!



Thanks!

Among others making the race possible, we thank:

The Baltimore City Police make the race possible.

The Medics accompanying racers along the course ready at a moment’s notice to provide first aid.



Volunteers & a Kinetic Proposal

When Fifi reached the mud, she abruptly stopped. Bob—one of the volunteers who create the mud pit each year—approached and received a small box Fifi had brought. Bob removed his t-shirt to reveal a second tuxedo-print t-shirt underneath. He knelt in the goo, opened the box to reveal an engagement ring, and proposed to Erin—another volunteer he met at the mud three years ago.

See the YouTube video and Baltimore Sun article.

Other volunteers are shown below. If you’d like to join the team for next year’s race, Join the Volunteer Email List!


Spectators

In this modern age, some people know how to put on fancy dress for an important event.


The KineticBaltimore.com team

Tom Jones, Howard Wellman, Rich Wilke

Johanna Jones, Eric Zhang

Alan Duda

Thanks to Melina and Bob Meshako for providing photographer support on the HMS Yellowbottom.

Many excellent photos above were also taken by Will Wall.



Show individual pages
  1. Champion: Eek!
  2. Dr. Vlad’s Mad Lab
  3. Agogosaurus
  4. Holy Grail
  5. Back Alley Farm
  6. Not So Angry Bird & Tony’s Trampoline
  7. Loose Cannon & Gun Show Collective
  8. Go Ask Alice
  9. Frednan
  10. Greendustrial Revolution
  11. Jemicy’s You Know the Drill, Hammer Time, and Gut Wrencher
  1. Max’s Magic Bus
  2. Purple PLATYPUS
  3. Steamed Punk
  4. Hogwarts Express
  5. Tricyclotops
  6. Get Tanked
  7. Garden of Hedon
  8. OK Go
  9. Byte Me
  10. Desdemona Duck
  11. AMS Crab
  12. Red Baron Sails
  1. Crusader Gator
  2. Aluminum Falcon
  3. T-Wrecks
  4. Dad-A-Maran
  5. Halo
  6. Firebreather
  7. Piece of Cake
  8. AVAM’s Fifi, Bumpo, and Frog
  9. Thanks!
  10. Volunteers & a Kinetic Proposal
  11. Spectators
  12. The KineticBaltimore.com Team
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