It was a beautiful day for the largest-ever Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race,
featuring the creative work of 32 artist-engineer teams.
As the race grows, each year seems to have an inadvertent theme.
Largely by coincidence, this ninth running of the East Coast Championship included
eight entries that were boats or boat-like in theme or design. All these boats did well on the water.
However, three entries that were not boats capsized. Draw
your own conclusions. Here are the complete results for your viewing pleasure.
A video player with videos of almost all the sculptures is at the bottom of the page.
The Champion: Patapsico Queen
Taking home both the People’s Choice and the Grand Mediocre East Coast Championship was the
glorious all-terrain steamboat Patapsico Queen.
It’s 24 feet long, and has a strong Maryland motif with the colors of the state flag, a Black Eyed Susan
and painted window screens in the Baltimore tradition. The Queen bears the old-fashioned name of the Patapsco River,
and the flag on her bow bears the logo of the World Championship Kinetic Sculpture
Race in Humboldt, California. The crowd cheered as a cloud of orange smoke
billowed from her stacks. The Make Believers have created magical designs every year since
2002, and subtle design elements such as the push handles on the side so the pit crew can help her through the mud reflect that
experience. They lost a pedal in the mud, but a spectator found it.
Designer Frank Conlan and Pilot Peter Stern said she handled like a dream on the
water, and they may take her onto the Inner Harbor this summer. Also
piloting were Larry Klemm and Holly Tominack; they were accompanied by Pit Crew members Karen Klimek, Eric Jack, Kini Collins, Holly Klemm, Amy Swackhamer, Cheryl Dishon, and Andreé Maslon.
PLATYPUS returns, with suitor
Wilma the blue skater gurl wombat bears a tattoo "I ♥ Pokey"
to show her love for the PLATYPUS that she followed for 13 miles
through Baltimore. Wilma is the latest Kinetic Creation from David
Hess’s team, and featured claws made of plastic tubing and a bright
furry coat. Wilma bravely approached the water, but then ran away,
revealing her Bush League status. (Bush League sculptures complete
the entire course except the water entry.)
Pokey the PLATYPUS (Personal Long-range All-Terrain Yacht Proven Un-Safe) returned with her
crew sporting lab coats, hard hats, and red-and-white striped socks.
Every eye in the Inner Harbor was on her as she drove by. For the second consecutive year, she won the Engineering award for her astonishing automotive
transmission and wheels powered by eight pilots on bicycle pedals. In
Patterson Park, she became stuck in high gear, making hill-climbing
difficult, so she trailed the pack until they found a parts shop and poured oil into the
gears while soaring down Lombard Street. At the finish, she broke through a tape reading "YOU ROCK".
for Pokey is unrequited, for Pokey’s heart belongs to Fifi.
Fifi the Pink Poodle returned for her seventh year with her biker image
reflected in her spiked collar. Leather-clad pilots Joe Wall and Theresa
Segreti wore pickelhaube helmets topped by a pink pom on a stick.
No word yet on Fifi’s response to the romantic advances of Pokey the
The Jazz Hand is a 12-times model of a human hand, dedicated to Bob Fosse and the Jazz Hand in us all. It won the Art award, partly for the
squad of dancers appearing at the water entry who performed to Kirsty MacColl’s In These Shoes. (See the YouTube video.)
The fingers were independently controllable with cables so the gesture changed
throughout the race.The Jazz Hand
is sponsored by Keytech. Leader Gavin Heck (instigator of last year’s Two Goats On a Bridge entry) worked with pilots Chad Schneider and Brian Tetrault and pit crew member Jenny Regan. They took no chances on the water and led the hand around by a rope.
Attack of the Sculpturians
Attack of the Sculpturians is a kinetic interpretation of 1950s sci-fi movies. The 600-pound alien eats sugar, and set off into the harbor at Canton with its
front tentacles thrashing, heading for the Domino Sugar plant on the south side of the harbor.
The only thing that saved the plant was the crowd chanting to draw its attention to a giant marshmallow peep to draw it back to shore. It nabbed the peep, which rode out the rest of the race in its
quivering mandibles. This is the third sculpture from Artex Fine Art Services, who created the 2005 Cake on a Lake and 2006 Hunk a Hunk of Burnin’ Junk.
They received their third ACE award for following all of the difficult ACE rules—such as exiting the water without any outside help and the same two pilots riding the entire course.
With all that sugar, they also received the Speed award for completing the racecourse the fastest.
Three about Whales from It Cain’t
Whale of a Tale is the first of a group of three entries from the Team It Cain’t.
This remake of the Pequod included Captain Ahab, a complement of six sails, and a charming
pig sock creature as a figurehead at the front.
You can’t have Captain Ahab without Moby Dick. The huge Tail of a Whale dwarfed other sculptures—and cars—through the city. The tail swept up and down as it went,
seaweed dripped from its jaw, and the embedded harpoons showed
its relentless pursuit by the Pequod.
It Cain’t received the Spirit of the Founder award for vision akin to that of
Kinetic Sculpture Glorious Founder Hobart Brown. Sadly, Hobart was ill and could not visit the Baltimore race this year;
Kinetic Universe President and Kinetic Queen Shaye Harty came from Humboldt County, California and made the selection for this award.
The third of the It Cain’t Trio was Tailing the Whale, featuring First Mate Starbuck
and an oversized cup of coffee. At right you can see the trio making their way down Key Highway.
Just as a whaler faces damage at sea, so does a kinetic sculpture exiting
the water. The transition from water to land is always difficult because sufficient weight and power
need to be on the front wheels to pull the rest of the sculpture out of the water. Here
the Pequod took damage, losing the lower hull off her bow.
She continued undaunted, however, until the mud, where a crewmember pushed from the rear, but she tacoed a wheel
and could not complete the race.
Never underestimate the dramatic impact of a huge open mouth on the front of a kinetic sculpture.
It always appears to be swallowing whatever’s in front of it, in
this case a Honda or a cooler disguised as a piece of sushi mounted on a crew member’s bicycle helmet.
Acme Kinetic Sculpture
Acme Kinetic Sculpture was propelled by Wile E. Coyote and his cousins, pursuing
the Road Runner (below) with their rocket. They played a variety of appropriate Warner Brothers soundtracks.
In the sand, they inadvertently crunched a wheel into a taco shape, and tried to continue by placing it on a furniture dolly (which was not
particularly successful). They played "That’s All, Folks" when they tacoed a second wheel.
The amazing thing about this entry is that they had heard of Kinetic Sculpture Racing only three weeks
before this race—the project went from concept to execution in that time! Since they know about it now, we hope they come back next year!
Travel with Class
Eldersburg Elementary School created Travel with
Class, which started the race as a collection of flowers and bugs, but
transformed into a spectacular rainbow-finned fish and a red crane. The kimono-clad pit crew supported
the sculpture. Teacher Denise Ovelgone led over one hundred students from
Eldersburg, Oklahoma Middle, and Sykesville Middle School. Inspiration came from Polly Shulman’s Linnea in Monet’s Garden and Marcus Pfister’s Rainbow Fish, books read by the students.
They won the award for Best Costumes.
Recycled Ocean recycled components of the 2006 World Peas
sculpture with a design tribute to Baltimore artist Alzaruba. They wowed the
crowd by playing drums (plastic buckets) on the water. While taking considerable time
on the ramp, the Ocean achieved an ACE award, as well as Sock Creature of the Universe for its mandatory item of psychological comfort. It’s sponsored by Gallery ID8 and Ale Mary’s, with pilots Tony Walker and Gary Nasuta.
Three from the Jemicy School
This sculpture was called the Valkin Visker Bote II, but bore little resemblance
to the astonishing but ill-fated wooden sculpture from 2004. In fact, it did so well
the pilot achieved the ACE award.
It was the first of three entries from the Jemicy School of Baltimore County.
It won Pilots’ Choice by
consensus of the other sculptures.
The second Jemicy entry, Daisy Pushers, fared less well. As they tried to navigate around the pier, the foam wheels torqued upward
in a manner likely inconsistent with the design requirements and one wheel came off
The pilot adjacent to that wheel was plunged into the
harbor, but swam around with the sculpture. While this craft had applied for ACE, instead they received the
Golden Dinosaur awarded for most memorable breakdown.
The third Jemicy entry was here for its second year. Last year, the pilot of Subdude heroically cranked his arms to propel the sculpture out of the water to maintain ACE
status. This year, brute force was
not enough at the water exit; it seemed that his sculpture was more buoyant than before and his drivewheels couldn’t get traction.
Then something broke, and he took some time trying to fix the problem there and maintain ACE status. But while he was
trying to fix it, things went a bit awry....
Tropical Paradise Goes Under
Tropical Paradise is the name of this 2-pilot entry from the Catholic Community School, well-decorated with
shark pontoons, a tropical hut, and a giant toucan up top. As shown here, everything was just fine on the water until it
caught up with Subdude that was blocking the way with repairs.
Tropical Paradise seemed to be doing fine waiting for perhaps ten minutes. Flash Mob (described below) came up behind and joined
the queue. Then all of a sudden...
Tropical Paradise rocked and suddenly capsized. No one was hurt, but the Toucan was knocked off its mounting when it collided with the pier.
As you can see in the lower right photo as they ride back through the Inner Harbor toward the finish line, they
perservered regardless, with the trusty Toucan resting its beak on the hut. There was no doubt they
were due the Golden Flipper award.
All this happened at the same time as the ramp pothole repair described next.
Kinetic Airways Grounded by Pothole, Baltimore City Prevents Recurrence
Bob Buerger brought back Kinetic Airways for the eighth time, and was hoping for his fifth ACE.
However at the water entry, there two grand grim potholes at the
intersection of asphalt and concrete. While he was trying to pull
out of them, his drivetrain broke.
This location is especially tragic, being adjacent to the spot where
Kinetic Airways last year
suffered a breakdown that also forced it to end
its flight at the water exit.
Bumpo was also hung up on the same spot. However, a
Kinetic volunteer contacted the Baltimore Department of Transportation and an hour later the race was halted for about 10 minutes
emergency pothole repair, so that no other sculpture would suffer Kinetic Airways’ fate.
Air Farce One
Air Farce One was the work of the Gugliuzza family of Hyattsville. The wings opened up
wider on the water, and the pontoons pivoted 90° on the mud. A
well-executed, catastrophe-resistant design, remade from the Crush Dude entry of 2005.
Carver Center’s Seacat
With sword waving as it crosses the starting line, Seacat was equipped with a green feline mermaid figurehead
and a cannonball impacts on both the port and starboard hull. Coming from the Carver Center for Arts and Technology, this
was a redesign of 2006’s Yellow Submarine. However, they experienced an irreparable
chain breakage at Patterson Park, and the Seacat did not finish the race.
New Age Viking Hill Master
The New Age Viking Hill Master was a canoe atop a wheeled
frame. On land, they were powered by rowing—the only sculpture to do so other than Peter Stern’s
Roadboat of 2003. Both were quite impressive, gave the pilots’ biceps quite a workout, and both broke down in roughly the same place, four years apart.
After a gearing breakdown, they cobbled things back together long enough to make it through the water and
thoroughly impressed the crowd by heaving their sculpture out of the water without assistance.
The Southern New England Weirdos (SNEW) of Worcester, Massachusetts came all the way to Baltimore, and we hope they return in 2008!
UMBC’s You’ve Got What It Takes
The You’ve Got What It Takes comes from the Kinetic Sculpture Club of the University
of Maryland Baltimore County. One pilot faced forward, and three faced backward. On the water, one pilot steered while three
pedaled. On the water, one of the pilots called her mother on a cellphone, and shouted to the crowd "Say hi to my mom!"
With a traditional rear paddle, they required pulling to exit the water, but their pit crew was not available;
you can see Johanna from KineticBaltimore pulling it ashore.
Cats For Sale $5
This sculpture, titled Cats For Sale $5, had five pilots. They
used a novel paddle-wheel arrangement powered by
a pilot lying on his back, but it provided little propulsion so the oars were needed. They required pushing through the mud.
They were not struck by a bus just outside ESPNZone in the city.
The IND Penguins come from the Institute of Notre Dame, an igloo topped by a penguin. Pilots Amanda Ward and
Caitlyn Cook powered the sculpture through the race. The penguin had a lean for the latter part of the race after colliding with a tree limb
in Patterson Park.
They won Best Pit Crew for the crew’s willingness to carry the sculpture for great distances as the result of breakdowns,
and they won Best Bribes for their hand-glittered arctic cardboard goggles with slits to peer through.
Towson’s Flash Mob
We’re not quite sure what the design of Flash Mob reflects, but the pirate-hatted
lassies from Towson University won Next to Last award.
Team Trogdor was a Bush League entry, meaning that they completed the entire racecourse except the water entry.
They’re from the Baltimore Lab School, and their Trogdor is easily recognizable as the HomestarRunner.com character.
Old School Capsizes in Style
The clever designers of Old School covered drinking water bottles with
bags decorated to look like fish. They seemed a bit unstable upon entering the
water, but began making progress. However, soon their progress slowed to a
crawl and then
capsized in the harbor. Undaunted, they heaved the sculpture out of the water
where they had entered and continued through the finish, where they are shown
enthusiastically breaking the finish tape that celebrates each sculpture’s
completion of the racecourse.
Goes to Eleven
Goes to Eleven is piloted by Mike Phillips and
Mike Cullen, and the flotation
consisting of three barrels secured to the frame non-rigidly.
This tripod system was extremely unstable, and
they toppled right over in the water. Remember to secure your flotation well, and note that long lines of floatation—pontoons—are generally much more stable! (There is no video for this team as we had very little footage.)
The Rat returned with the same sinister look as last year.
The Frog also exhibited its tried-and-true design throughout the race.
Bumpo had a new sound system; at the water entry it played La Cucaracha while the race judges swatted a
piñata until it broke, and children scampered in from the crowd to get the candy that had been inside. That’s Pete Hilsee with the turban out in front pulling Bumpo on a rope.
The Kinetic Cattle Drive was back with decorated taxidermy heads mounted on bikes
Moon Buggy: Back for More
The Moon Buggy was a surprise entry, and hadn’t even registered when the race started. Its water entry was delayed while paperwork was hastily completed.
The tires worked considerably better than last year, and the steering mechanism with a separate hand-cranked differential is quite impressive. It had gone
less than a mile before the slow-moving vehicle triangle on the back was bent from hitting the ground. While unsuitable for
long-distance travel, this craft had the most distinctive chassis at the race. It won Worst Honorable Mention, for “the Sculpture whose half-baked theoretical ‘engineering’ did not deter its Pilot from the challenge of the race.”
Festivity Among the Crowd
Many spectators, pit crew, volunteers, and pilots dressed up to a delightful extent. Here are some of them.
At Your Service
The KineticBaltimore.com team (left to right)
Michael Cooney, Ramp Master and Crowd Wrangler
Karen Wallace, Supreme Instigator of Kinetic Finery, Mad Haberdasher, and Festivator of the Masses
Johanna Goderre, Director of Benevolence
Tom Jones, Creator of Fine Websites, Photos, Maps, Spectator’s Guides, and other Paraphernalia to the
Kinetic Trades, and Kinetic Seer #746 ordained by the Glorious Founder, Hobart Brown
All in all it was an incredible day! You should come to Baltimore May 3, 2008 for the tenth annual Kinetic Sculpture Race—see you then! And if you’re craving more photos of the 2007 race, see the Links page!