The 2017 Champion sculpture, Cowsmic Moobeams, on its maiden voyage
Every year the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture race hosts a public spectacle that you don't want to miss. The results from 2017's quirky cutthroat race are in!
The tradition of the Kinetic Sculpture race began
with a friendly challenge between neighbors in Ferndale, California in 1969. An artist named Hobart Brown updated his son's tricycle with two more wheels, creating a "Pentacycle." His neighbor was unimpressed and challenged Brown to a race at an upcoming festival. The race received broad publicity when photos of a congressman riding the Pentacycle made its rounds nationally. From there, the inventive trend caught on and Kinetic Sculpture racing took on a life of its own. Now, the World Championship of Kinetic Sculpture Racing
is in Ferndale each year.
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Herbert Brown's original Pentacycle design, circa 1969[/caption]
The race first came to Baltimore in 1999 when Rebecca Hoffberger, the founder of the American Visionary Art Museum
, became inspired watching the World Championships. Since then, the race has grown each year. Large portions of the race course take place on the paved roads surrounding the Visionary Art museum; but, undoubtedly the most exciting part of the race is watching the large sculptures and their drivers maneuver around the many obstacles.
Today, the Baltimore race is known as the East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race Championship. Teams made up of students from district schools, churches, and other groups organize and create massive, moving sculptures that can compete for the winning title: Grand Champions!
The Kinetic Sculpture Race makes use of Baltimore's water-craft culture
Since the race takes place by harbor, the race creators decided to add water entires to the racecourse. Now, each year the sculptors must create a kinetic sculpture that is fast on land and i
n water! This obstacle adds a design challenge to the race. It necessitated changes to the rules and safety requirements. Each race participant must have Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets and ropes to help tow them out of the water. According to one of the more stringent rules, the pilot's body can only be eight percent wet at the end of the race; the overall goal is to stay afloat! Besides, no one wants to capsize in the notoriously dirty harbor anyhow.
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The 2017 Champion sculpture, Cowsmic Moobeams of St. Casimir’s Catholic School in Canton , on its maiden voyage[/caption]
2017's Race and Awards
The theme of the race changes each year, where as the main goal always remains the same: to have fun and be creative. The 2017 race's theme was FOOD, and the competitors pulled out as many tasty puns as they could think of.
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PLATYPUS Australian Cold-Cut Sub passes "In a Pickle" after the team suffered a mechanical failure.[/caption]
In addition to the award of "Grand Champion" other participants can receive a number of awards.
the Art Award;
"Category includes consideration of color, costumes, two and three dimensional artistic designs, kinetic motion, humor, theatrical appeal, and mass crowd- and media glory-seeking."
the Engineering Award;
"Category includes consideration of ingenious conquering of course obstacles through Sculpture design as well as any ingenious facet of the design that functions in a truly unique or Glorious Manner."
or the Golden Dinosaur;
"Awarded to either the first Sculpture to break down or to the most memorable breakdown."
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The winners of 2017's Art Award, "Petal to the Metal," designed and built by a team from Takoma Park, MD[/caption]
Overall, the race is a quirky experience that should not be missed; it offers a tiny taste of the charm that Charm City, Maryland has to offer.
Theres a little over 300 days to go before the 2018 race. For details on how to participate
or how to spectate
, check out their official website!