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Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
2014 Race Report

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Saturday 3 May 2014

The long harsh Baltimore winter finally gave way to Spring, and on the first Saturday of May the sculptures come out to play. With 31 sculptures from 24 teams, spectators got their money’s worth as spectacular sculptures returned with major revisions, including the now-missing PLATYPUS and Alice’s caterpillar metamorphosed into Peter Pan’s Grand Mediocre crocodile.

With six agile photographers leaping throughout the racecourse, is proud to bring you this year’s coverage. Thanks to further investment in cameras, this year’s images have 56% more pixels than last year, and more than twice as many as our 2009 coverage.

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

Tick Tock the Croc

Sweeping an astonishing collection of awards, Tick Tock the Croc was awarded Grand Mediocre and Art by the judges, People’s Choice by the people, and Marine Posse Favorite by the Kinetic Kayak Rescue & Repair teams.

The Kinetic Race Rules require sculptures be 35 feet long or shorter. Why not make it 35?

This isn’t just any crocodile. This is the crocodile to which Peter Pan fed Captain Hook's hand.

Oars popped out the sides on the harbor as two pilots turned to face the tail. This is the second sinuous children’s fantasy animal atop this 6-pilot chassis. From 2010–2013, it was the foundation for Go Ask Alice, the blue hookah-smoking caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland:

The high-velocity Croc zipped down Lombard Street showing off the clock and skull inside.

In the mud, the Croc started to jackknife into the crowd, but caused no injuries—far better than one would expect from a 35-foot crocodile loose in a crowd.

The Croc soared through the sand with jubilation.

The crew includes pirates, lost boys, Darlings, Tiger Lily, and Peter Pan.

Fire & Phoenix

Two kinetic vehicles came from St. Paul’s School for Boys. First was the visually stunning Fire, whose design included aluminum chassis, fabulous painted plasma-cut fore and aft fins, fabric canopies, and curious lateral pontoons which added considerable resistance to the water portion.

The school’s other entry, Phoenix, included large wooden front wheels with attached water paddles. That chap lounging on the inner tube is what’s known in kinetic lingo as a barnacle—someone who rides on the human-powered sculpture but does not provide propulsion. Barnacles must weigh at least 93 pounds (42.1kg).

As it drove down Key Highway, the front and tail rotated for a visual kinetic feast.

Barnacles are allowed to contribute enthusiasm.

Pit crew (with orange moustache sunglasses) point out their mandatory sock creature.

Preparing for the pie-eating contest at the Patterson Park Pagoda.

Students waited while parents re-set the chain.

The all-wheel drive and broad gnarled tires made light work of the mud. For this high quality in an original vehicle, Fire won the Engineering award.

You’ll notice much in common with 2013’s

also from St. Paul’s.


The fantastic colossal combine Cornography rolled gracefully along Key Highway. They dropped a chain at the start and skipped Federal Hill, but once they got rolling they were so fast, the photographers couldn't keep up with it to Canton.

Professional driver on closed course. Do not drive your combine into the Chesapeake bay.

Team 1,800 Lbs has a growing history of Kinetic spectacles:

Pilots ran down Federal Hill for the LeMans start.

Pit crew wore extremely festive corn helmets, and pilots wore caps with a country damsel on a semi-shucked corn cob. For the work needed to propel the magnificent 12-foot wheels through the race, they won Best Pit Crew.

Sweet Wynona Whale

Sweet Wynona Whale rolled her eyes and flipped her tail, in pursuit of a cake celebrating her 16th birthday.

Wynona’s occupants included Jonah and a mermaid.

Good Dog & the Big Itchy Flea Circus

This happy furry Good Dog with articulating legs and six pilots is a companion for Fifi the French poodle. The other racers awarded it Pilots’ Choice.
Team Put a Lid On It from Takoma Park has 6 years of distinguished kinetic history:

With legs flying, Good Dog ran through the water.

Call the large animal veterinarian! And where are the legs?


Based on the Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots game introduced in 1964 in which two players duel with robots until one’s head is knocked off, Team Goes To Eleven’s Toyboxers is dramatically enlarged with four pilots and one steering Cub Scout barnacle.
This is Goes to Eleven’s seventh year:

Most racers were across the finish line and eating dinner when Toyboxers passed by AVAM to start the final southern loop. The match was a clear victory for red, who knocked blue’s head off, and the sculpture won the Next-to-Last award.

Their hand-made fabric Mr. Potato Head won Sock Creature of the Universe, and their bribes were miniature versoins of the game, shown here with the post-race rainbow.

AMS Swagon & AMS Peacock

From Arbutus Middle School, the AMS Swagon has a custom chassis with large vertical pontoons, a conestoga wagon with one small horsepower.

The AMS Peacock is a smaller model, also with custom chassis, and an enthusiastic pilot.

2014 marked Arbutus Middle School’s third annual entry; their past entries were:

American Visionary Art Museum founder Rebecca Hoffberger applauds the Swagon as they prepare to make way.


Pokey the PLATYPUS has gone missing somewhere near Tahiti, so the 8-pilot, 1-barnacle crew is out searching his usual stomping grounds in the mighty engineering marvel PLATYPUS LOST.

At the water entry, the crew sang an ode to the lost PLATYPUS with a Lady Gaga melody.

Prior PLATYPUS sightings were
  • 2012 as El PLATYPUS
  • 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)

and he was rumored to have something to do with:


From Landsdowne High School, Doodle consisted of large sheets of white foam onto which spectators were encouraged to write graffiti.

When the judges sat down to determine who should receive the Golden Flipper award, surely Doodle was the clear winner.

Last year, the school raced


Chessie resembles a mesozoic Baltimore-bred plesiosaur with excellent all-terrain tires. Chessie applied for ACE, but the mud was viciously viscous this year and Chessie needed pushing.

Everyone should wear life preservers. This sea dragon wears two.

The rear-steer tricycle configuration was a robust platform on all terrain.

Chessie is new, but the team returns for its fourth year:


The exquisite engineering of Agogosaurus returned for a third year, handily tackling the all-terrain and amphibious challenges of the race to win its third ACE.

This is Agogosaurus’ third year, and third ACE:

These extremely elegant tires require no changes for for smooth running on sand, mud, or pavement. Note the hard central ring that significantly reduces pavement rolling resistance.

Agogosaurus is audaciously steered from the rear, with a universal joint conveying the steering column through the hinge between the two wheeled chassis trucks.


PETS is People for the Ethical Treatment of Sea creatures. While pirates were the original sea shepherds, protectors of all sea creatures, their good deeds have been overshadowed by their sometimes-harsh fundraising practices.

This Crofton team’s prior entries focused on dinosaurs, all sponsored by Cabinet Discounters:

The Most Amazing Dog Park Ever!

An all-terrain amusement park for dogs was the theme of The Most Amazing Dog Park Ever!. With a ferris wheel, roller coaster, and waterslides, it’s mostly made out of found and recycled materials. It received the Judges’ Fill-in-the-Blank award.

Last year, the team raced

Astral Plane

The Make Believers this year entered a 2-pilot sculpture concentrating art into a smaller design. Astral Plane is the manifestation of the spirits of Amelia and Muriel Earhart in the form of a school of flying fish.

The Make Believers have a very long history of Kinetic Sculpture Racing:

Max’s Rat Patrol

Hailing from Max’s Tavern on South Broadway in Fell’ Point, Max’s Rat Patrol made references to the 1966–68 television series and to the rodents of Baltimore.

They were so fast through the racecourse they won the Speed award.

It’s sponsored by Max’s Tavern on South Broadway in Fells Point, also responsible for:

Like rats on a not-quite sinking ship

Six Sculptures from Jemicy School

Baltimore’s Jemicy School entered six student-crafted sculptures. In the kinetic LeMans start, all the pilots start on Federal Hill, out of their sculptures. When Sister Euphonia O’Blivion struck the gong to start the race, they ran down the hill, into their sculptures.

Going for ACE of Cakes is a reverse-trike, front-wheel steering sculpture, whose pilot pushed through water, sand and, mud without assistance to win an ACE award.

This was the Jemicy School’s eleventh year of Kinetic racing:
That is the face of someone who has just completed the final major hurdle to winning an ACE, and the pilot of Cake Boss need only avoid catastrophe riding downhill back to AVAM to claim it.

Takes the Cake had a similar design, but did not achieve an ACE, requiring assistance in the mud.

After much of the crowd was leaving, having thought all sculptures exited the water, Icing on the Cake finally came back toward the pier, still hoping for an ACE after a lengthy spell on the water. The most difficult part of the race on which to maintain forward progress without assistance is the water exit, and the crowd roared with cheers of support for the pilot, who heaved his sculpture out of the water with such endurance as to win both the Spirit of the Glorious Founder and the Marine Posse Perseverance Award.

It’s my Daddy’s Beemer and I’ll Cry if I Want To has 2 pilots commemorating teenage respect for German engineering. It won Worst Honorable Mention for its breakdown, and did not win an ACE.

With 4 pilots, the largest Jemicy entry, Have Your Cake and Eat It Too did achieve the high level of competition required to win an ACE.

Swan Song of Betsy Patterson

The Swan Song of Betsy Patterson commemorated the life of Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, whose family named the site of the race’s sand and mud challenges.

The swan was lightning-fast through the racecourse

2014 was Tony Walker & Co.’s eighth Kinetic event:

The Swan balked at the start of the mud as its feathers were soiled.

As bribes, they distributed invitations for the wedding of Betsy Patterson to Jérôme Bonaparte (brother of Emperor Napoleon). The wedding was held at the water entry, but an annullment was conducted immediately after they left the water.

For their turn-of-the-century costumes hand-made from original patterns, they won Best Costumes.


With an orange and violet color scheme, Halo returned to tackle the water, sand, and mud.

For their pit crew’s victory in the Pagoda challenge pie-eating contest, Halo won the Sweet 16 award—although they were not at the awards ceremony to receive it. We suspect they were already enthusiastically planning their 2015 entry.

Quite a collection of pulleys and belts!

This is Halo’s third year, better than ever:

Team 1-Up

Team 1-Up threw water balloons into the crowd.

You may recognize this Rube Goldberg chassis as last year’s

For the techno music–playing stars of affirmation, they received the Best Bribes award.

Sticky Situation

Sticky Situation was designed as a (used) gumball that accumulated trash and debris along the 14-mile kinetic racecourse. It’s the first entry from Edgewood High School of Harford County.

Do You Want To Build a Sculpture

Do You To Build a Sculpture is modeled from Olaf’s sled in Frozen, with mandatory sock creature front & center.

The Dumpster Divers’ legacy stretches back to the beginning of Kinetic Racing in Baltimore (further than this website!):

Minecraft Machine

The first entry from the STEM program at Old Mill Middle School in Millersville, Minecraft Machine celebrates the Swedish 3-D cube-based computer game.

They suffered a breakdown shortly after the start, but the pilots and crew completed the racecourse in good spirits.

Name Your Game

Name Your Game from Baltimore’s Friends School is an homage to game shows, with a wheel of fortune, a Plinko! board, doors that might conceal prizes, and a presenter in a satin dress on a golden chair.

Too much lateral stress bends a wheel like a taco—Kinetinauts use “taco” as a verb. They tacoed a wheel on the first turn, securing the Golden Dinosaur award.

In fine Kinetic spirit, the pilots and crew carried elements of their sculpture through the race. Here they dip the wheel of fortune at the water entry as a kinetic baptism. (Note that one of the fortunes is “1–3 Rabid Ferrets”.)

AVAM’s Homecoming Queen Fifi & Bumpo Learns to Drive

A museum piece 364¼ days of the year, Fifi emerges annually into the city and her adoring public.

Another classic delight from the American Visionary Art Museum, Bumpo the elephant is learning to drive as the race turns 16.

Fifi was led astray by the wind, and was pushed off the rocks by this spectator.


Among others making this complex race possible, we enthusiastically 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 from the Station North Tool Library rode along with the race, providing repair services en route.


This kind of chaos doesn’t happen by itself—it requires an extensive team of dedicated volunteers! If you have what it takes to join the team for next year’s race, Join the Volunteer Email List!


Here are examples of people who know how to make a good impression at an important event.

The team

Rich Wilke

Amy Swackhamer

Christian Borttorff

Howard Wellman

Johanna Jones

Tom Jones

Rampmaster Alan Duda

Melina and Bob Meshako, crew of the HMS Yellowbottom (who also provided photos!)

Show individual pages
  1. Tick Tock The Croc
  2. Fire & Phoenix
  3. Cornography
  4. Sweet Wynona Whale
  5. Good Dog & the Big Itchy Flea Circus
  6. Toyboxers
  7. AMS Swagon and AMS Peacock
  9. Doodle
  10. Chessie
  1. Agogosaurus
  2. PETS
  3. The Most Amazing Dog Park Ever!
  4. The Astral Plane
  5. Max’s Rat Patrol
  6. Six Sculptures from Jemicy School
  7. Swan Song of Betsy Patterson
  8. Halo
  9. Team 1-Up
  1. Sticky Situation
  2. Do You Want To Build a Sculpture
  3. Minecraft Machine
  4. Name Your Game
  5. AVAM’s Homecoming Queen Fifi & Bumpo Learns to Drive
  6. Thanks!
  7. Volunteers
  8. Spectators
  9. The Team
4/19/2024 5:15:36 PM   4/19/2024 9:50:57 PM   1:13   2:   3:   4:   5:   6:1   7:   8:   9:   10:   11:   12:1   13:1   14:   15:   16:   17:   18:   19:1   20:   21:   22:1   23:   24:   25:   26:1   27:   28:   29:   AllInOne:1
The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race is sponsored and run by the American Visionary Art Museum. is the volunteer work of Tom Jones.
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