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Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
2023 Race Report: Grand Champion: Mr. Jon Dig-It

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Please contact Tom Jones if you have anything to add or update, or would like high-res photos of your team’s entry.

Saturday 6 May 2023

The spirit of Hobart Brown blessed Baltimore with fine sunny weather for the 22nd Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race East Coast Championship. The theme Everyday People was well-represented in many sculptures presenting everyday people—but several entries were contrarily based on gold and royalty of the British and Egyptian sorts.

Until this day, someone asking for the most dramatic story on the water would learn about 2004, when the Make Believers entered a 3-car circus train called Cirque de Sore Legs. It blew so far off course the Baltimore City Police boat rigged it to tow back to shore. Under tow, it broke apart, leaving pilots dressed as a lion tamer, lion, bear, and fortune teller adrift, until they were separately rescued by spectators who had come to see the race via kayak.

2023 added another dramatic water entry to the history books: Team Cap Kinetic entered Engines & Dragons, a fire engine that was next-to-last at the water entry. A few spectators had even started to leave, poor dears. The fire engine never looked particularly stable going around the pier, but with landfall approaching the crowd roared when they rolled heavily to the right, then completely upside down. Heroes from the real Baltimore City Fire Department rescue boats jumped into the harbor to ensure everyone was safe, then helped flip the fire engine back upright. And despite all that, the team put everything back together (except what sank to the bottom of the bay) and finished the race! Don't miss the photos and video.

Our 8 all-terrain photographers followed the race from start to finish, taking 11,291 photos; the best 327 are in this report. Thanks to camera and computer improvements, we also provide 78% more pixels per photo than last year, for clearer images than ever before. We’ve also posted videos on the Engines & Dragons and the Opening Ceremony & Start page.

We thank Service Photo, Baltimore’s awesome full-service camera shop on Falls Road for setting us up with a slightly used Canon mirrorless when one of our workhorse SLRs died the day before the race. We also thank Lensrentals from whom we arranged four cameras and related equipment.

Click the “Next Page >” button to go to the next team, or select any of the teams listed at the bottom of the page.

Grand Champion: Mr. Jon Dig-It

This year’s Grand East Cast National Mediocre Champion was Mr. Jon Dig-It, a construction-yellow front end loader backhoe. On land they had an unusual complement of 5 pilots: 1 up front and 4 outside in back.

A longstanding kinetic tradition is the “Le Mans Start”—where the racers start outside their vehicles. In Baltimore, racers hike partway up Federal Hill adjacent to the American Visionary Art Museum, and when the gong sounds they run down to their sculptures to to begin driving. Curiously, motorsports no longer start Le Mans style, even the original 24 Hours of Le Mans race, while this tradition lives on in kinetics.

Another Kinetic tradition is that teams deliver thematic bribes to race judges seeking forgiveness of minor infractions. This team bribed with this cute miniature construction worker rubber ducky.

Along the racecourse, each kinetic sculpture is accompanied by a fleet of pit crew.

Just before the water, they jettisoned their rear auxiliary human propulsion unit consisting of two 2-person bicycles mounted to a frame.

On the water they switched from 5 to 2 pilots, who used hand-cranked paddlewheels. Lacking a keel, they were blown off course and required a tow back onto the racecourse by the Baltimore City Fire Department Marine Unit accompanying the race. (BCFD would be called upon for a much bigger rescue later for Engines & Dragons.)

If you look closely, this sculpture is built on a flat-bottom black jon boat, so it's a natural on the water.

Note also this backhoe has a baby in the bucket. This is only a simulation; please do not place actual babies in backhoe buckets, especially over water.

Their pit crew included 2 future kinetinauts who were conveyed via thematic stroller with yellow snow shovel.

The team honors the late Buck Schuster, a long-time friend and supporter.

On the mud, their narrow propulsion wheels were of marginal value, so they required a vigorous squad of pedestrian pushers. Pushing is acceptable under the rules as long as a sculpture is not attempting to achieve ACE status.

This is the eighth year the Soda Quackers of New Jersey and Pennsylvania entered the Baltimore kinetic race, and their second Championship:

At the finish line, they broke through a banner matching their theme.

Judge Luke Clippinger said, “They were always dancing. There were kids dancing. There were grown-ups dancing. There were senior citizens dancing”, just before announcing they were 2023 Grand Champions, recipients of the great handlebar trophy.

All Pages At Once (huge!)

Next Page >
  1. Grand Champion: Mr. Jon Dig-It
  2. Cut Out to be Royal
  3. Engines & Dragons
  4. Scrap Life
  5. Happy Campers
  6. Tick Tock the Croc
  7. Working Hard, or Bearly Working?
  8. Jemicy: The Big 50, Good As Gold, AuSome, Gettin Gold, & Golden Moose
  1. Book of Platypology
  2. Wilson’s Pyramid
  3. Steve Punk
  4. Ridin’ Wormy
  5. Reverse Dog Sled
  6. Soccer Moms
  7. Neil Mobile
  8. USS Rosie the Recycler
  9. Patent Pending
  1. Fifi
  2. 2 Bee or Not 2 Bee
  3. CLAWdia
  4. Nanster Truck
  5. Opening Ceremony & Start
  6. Thanks!
  7. Volunteers, Spectators & Crew
  8. The Kinetic Baltimore Team
4/19/2024 5:15:36 PM   4/19/2024 9:25:36 PM   1:7   2:1   3:   4:2   5:   6:   7:2   8:   9:1   10:   11:   12:1   13:1   14:   15:   16:1   17:1   18:   19:1   20:   21:1   22:1   23:   24:   25:1   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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