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Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
2018 Race Report

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

Saturday 5 May 2018

For the 20th Anniversary East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race Championship, the weather was nearly perfect. Unusually, the harbor was covered with a robust green sheen of spring pollen.

Our 5 all-terrain photographers followed the race from start to finish, taking 7,948 photos. The best 225 are in this report.

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

2018 Grand Champion: Baltimore Wheel Estate

Taking home both the 2018 Grand Mediocre Championship and Pilots’ Choice, Baltimore Wheel Estate: Location, Rotation, Floatation brought the streets of Baltimore to the streets of Baltimore in Kinetic form.

Six pilots drove the formstone walls, marble porch steps, and Calvert family flag banners along fourteen miles of Baltimore streets, sand, mud, and water.

They raced along Key Highway, with the Inner Harbor in the background, including the glass triangles of the National Aquarium.

On the water, bold foot-powered paddlewheels churned for propulsion, while the No Parking signs transformed into rudders.

Painted screens are a Baltimore tradition, and the window screens of Wheel Estate commemorate the local icons including the Bromo-Seltzer tower, American Visionary Art Museum, Edgar Allen Poe, and the US Navy Sloop Constellation.

As Hilltop Carry-Out restaurant staff watched, a volunteer kinetic chicken and police escort ensured a smooth trip to the finish line.

The official rules state:

Each Sculpture must carry at all times 1 comforting item of psychological luxury heretofore referred to as the “Homemade Sock Creature” (HSC). Homemade Sock Creature must be made in a home, from a not-too-recently-worn sock from the home, and resemble a creature homemade from a sock. (penalty: 1 hour)

The sock puppet for Wheel Estate is a monkey displayed in this basement window shrine.

Divine leaned out one window, and another had a poster for Baltimore Ceasefire.

They jubilantly crossed the finish line tape at the American Visionary Art Museum to complete the 6-hour race.

At the awards ceremony, they received the championship trophy.

This is this team’s tenth annual entry, and third grand championship:

Off the Rails

Like a hand-operated draisine pump trolley, Off the Rails is the first Baltimore kinetic entry to be arm-powered on land since 2007’s New Age Viking Hill Master. It’s the first ever to use this classic pivoting walking beam mechanism for power. They were destined to win the Engineering award.

Tread brakes at the very front provide a lot of stopping power. The pilot has a two-fisted steering control up front, connected by a push-pull cable to the yellow bar that pivots the rear wheels.

On the water, the same wheels provided propulsion without the need for any paddles. However, the mechanics kept crunching into the foam, until they paused for repair.

They needed pushing assistance through the mud, which is allowed under the rules for sculptures not going for ACE.

Preparing the next generation of Kinetinauts.

2018 is the 12th glorious year for Team 1,800 Lbs, and you may recognize these wheels back to 2013:

The engine, converting human energy from the pivoting beam into rotation, which is then conveyed to the front drive wheels with a motorcycle chain.

As they advanced along the racecourse, they updated the “Next Stop” on their red caboose support trailer.

We thought we had enough pixels to avoid Moiré effect, but these pinstripe overalls proved us wrong.

3 Sculptures From St. Paul’s Schools

St. Paul’s School created Anansi the Spider based on the African folklore character, an arachnid manifestation of wisdom and trickery. For the colorful theme with articulated legs and revolving eyes, they received the Art Award.

You may be wondering how the pilots can see to drive on the streets of Baltimore. More on that below.

The spider entered Baltimore Harbor with a bold splash.

Soon, doors opened on both sides and 4 paddles came out. When it came time to exit the water, other sculptures passed until they summoned crew and ropes to assist.

Pushing and pulling also got Anansi through the thick mud.

Cruising down Lombard Street tests the brakes. There may also be a giant poodle-ox behind.

Between the two St. Paul’s schools, this is the sixth Kinetic year, and third Art award:

Anansi’s cockpit held video screens to show what was going on outside.

The judges awarding the Art trophy.

From the design thinking class at St. Paul’s School and St. Paul’s School for Girls came Mystery Machine, inspired by the van from Scooby-Do, with the same distinctive color scheme.

The frame is made of PVC pipe, with bolted joints to handle fluctuating forces inherent to kinetic sculptures.

Cobblestones proved a challenge for those with smaller tires. A checkpoint at the Katyn Memorial circle ensured no teams took the shortcut readily apparent on the map.

Note the floatation barrels are now below the frame.

Getting through the mud involved pulling and pushing with only one pilot aboard.

Hurry up! There’s a PLATYPUS coming up fast!

Smiles grew as the finish line came into sight.

The third St. Paul’s entry, The Flying Dutchman originates from the green ghost haunting Spongebob Squarepants. Its larger bicycle wheels had an easier time in the mud, but the fixed pontoons dragged as wheels sank in.

Although the namesake character is very concerned about socks, we suspect these pit crew removed their shoes instead because prior crew lost shoes in the viscous mud.

The pirate flag and sock puppet monkey in the crow’s nest maintained their positions through the race.


When you’re traveling across the cosmos, what’s a few hours? Spacecation arrived on earth too late for the start of the race, and joined in just after the water entry.

With large wheels, high ground clearance, fantastic art, space tourism bumper stickers, and green & yellow pilots, they were ready for all Kinetic challenges.

They dashed straight through the same sand that severely impeded other teams.

They had to put forth effort, but they also traversed the mud in a single swift pass.

They bribed Sister O’Blivion with a UFO-frisbee and instant selfie print.

They finally made it to the American Visionary Art Museum.

And crossed the finish line. They had been so late because their spacecraft was so heavy they didn't have enough people to lift it into the truck that morning, for which they were awarded Worst Honorable Mention.

This is team Goes to Eleven’s ninth entry:

Unidentified Flying Platypus (UFP)

Unidentified Flying PLATYPUS (Personal Longrange All-Terrain Yacht Proven Un-Safe) is the jaunty behemoth piloted by 9 green space aliens.

With a strong paddlewheel in the tail, oars were needed only for course corrections.

Aliens under the Nattie Boh tower.

For epitomizing the 20 years of Kinetics, and having been in every year’s race—while youngest participant Eli progressed from 4 to 24 years old—PLATYPUS received the 20th Anniversary Mystery & Tall Tales trophy.

PLATYPUS has raced in Baltimore since 2005:

  • 2017 as PLATYPUS Australian Cold-Cut Sub (Pilots’ Choice)
  • 2016 as The Golden Eyedra and the Elusive Πλατύπους
  • 2015 as PLATYPUS Lost in Space (2015 Space Cadet award)
  • 2014 as PLATYPUS LOST
  • 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 was rumored associated with:

Monster Under the Bed

Monster Under the Bed from the Park School of Baltimore started out as a chain of 5 attached bicycles, with the medial bike bearing a bed with something substantial lurking under the covers.

The trailer also carried additional foam floatation and life preservers.

At the water, the caravan detached, and the monster sprang to a sitting position.

One of the foam blocks under the bed was completely submerged. When one support member’s buoyancy is exhausted, it brings on the dreaded Pontoon Effect.

Stabilization attempts soon proved fruitless as the pilot screamed…

and led to chaotic inversion, as both passenger and monster jumped ship.

Such drama is destined to win the Golden Flipper award for “most interesting water entry”.

After retrieving the skull, it was carried through the race on the remnants of the bed frame, with all 5 bikes proceeding independently.

Meanwhile, they had also created photo books to bribe the judges, describing the delight provided by participation in prior Kinetic races by Park School and Arbutus Middle School. The Judges had no choice but to also give them the Best Bribes award.

Awarding of the Best Bribes and Golden Flipper trophies.

This is the Park School’s second Kinetic year:

Revenge of the Sea

Revenge of the Sea retells the story of sea creatures fed up with years of overfishing, litter, and pollution now coming after humanity.

It’s is a remake of 2017’s Seafood’s Revenge, with upgrades including a new hull and sturdier axles. They kept the awesome fin and squid helmets.

Unlike most displacement-hull boats, this one needed pontoons for the water.

The great thing about being on a boat is there’s always something to do.

The wheels dug deep into the sand, requiring the might of eleven people to pull it through.

The mud somehow seemed easier.

Celebration as the second kinetic journey ends. With 2018 so improved over 2017, what will come in 2019?

The Jemicy Three

The Jemicy School of Baltimore entered three sculptures this year with a Where's Waldo theme. The first was Wenda, with four pilots and a thicket of red and white stripes.

Wenda’s pilots met the harbor with a gigantic splash.

All 3 Jemicy sculptures submitted their sculptures under the more stringent and challenging ACE rules, several of which are evident here:

  • Pit crew can observe and can stop a sculpture moving backward—but they cannot ever push it forward. These pit crew hold their hands up to demonstrate to ACE judges that no pushing is occuring.
  • ACE teams must carry all equipment for the entire race with them. Wenda switched its rear wheels between smoother road tires and gnarlier mud and water tires, so the tires not in use are carried behind the pilots.
  • Getting out of the water while ACEing is one of the hardest portions of the course. It’s uphill and wet, and rear wheels are usually floating.
  • The other major ACE rule is that the same pilots must drive the sculpture for the entire race—no swapping out.

The pit crew show more of the hands-off approach here, although their feet sometimes work as chocks to prevent backsliding.

The floatation is still in the lower water configuration as they pass St. Casimir’s Church, but was moved to the upper configuration so it doesn’s drag in the mud.

The Jemicy School has entered every year since 2004:

The Wenda crew celebrated their successful ACE at the finish line.

The next Jemicy sculpture was Waldo, also bearing an explosion of red and white stripes.

Pausing for breath at the Katyn Memorial Circle checkpoint, although the signs remind One Way, No Stopping!

Waldo’s giant splash into the harbor.

Waldo also achieved ACE status, but much more slowly than Wenda. In fact, Waldo won the Next-to-Last award for a penultimate finish, trailed on the racecourse by only Golden Fleece.

The third Jemicy sculpture was the single-pilot Odlaw, a trike based on Waldo’s nemesis, with black and yellow stripes, sunglasses, and moustache.

In contrast to Waldo, Odlaw completed the racecourse faster than every other sculpture (both with and without time penalties). Odlaw was first across the finish line—beating the Croc by almost 2 minutes— and received the Speed award.

Odlaw also achieved an ACE.

Odlaw addresses the crowd after receiving the Speed award.

Tick Tock the Croc

Some sculptures are so amazing they win awards year after year. Tick Tock the Croc returned for a fifth year. With music playing, cheerful swerving to and fro along the route, and wide-opening mouth and blowing tongue, Tick Tock took its fifth People’s Choice award based on surveys of the crowd taken by volunteer chickens. One spectator said “I can’t vote for anything but the crocodile, it’s so awesome!”

Wearing a purple harlequin mask to conceal its identify, Tick Tock prowled Baltimore.

View from a kayak.

So there’s a crocodile looking for the way to the swamp, and he asks two bananas for directions…

Croc does well in the mud, too.

In prior years, this team entered:

Tick Tock visited the sloop USS Constellation at Pier 1.

After the awards ceremony, Tick Tock’s creators donated him to the American Visionary Art Museum, for display year-round and racing in future years. This was Tick Tock's last lap before becoming a museum piece.

High Hat

The Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia returned with steampunk-themed High Hat that featured both the musical and haberdashery meanings.

Near the beginning of the race, a chain sprocket warped and they lost power on one side. But they persevered with just other side, and pushing when needed. Taking a break on President Street, they were passed by Dazzlin’ Dino & the Sneeshaws.

The Dumpster Divers have raced every year since 1999, Baltimore’s first year:

For their thematic garb, the judges awarded High Hat Best Costumes. (Left photo provided by the team.)

Dazzlin’ Dino & the Sneeshaws

From the Baltimore Lab School came The Dazzlin’ Dino & the Sneeshaws

Dino passed the brake check.

The Lab School’s earlier entries have all won awards:

Floatation came from four large barrels, one at each corner. Water propulsion came from two oars, although ergonomics were questionable.

Special Judge Charlotte selected Dazzlin’ Dino’s riot of glitter and color for the Sock Creature of the Universe award. But no one from the Lab School was at the awards ceremony to receive the furry blue trophy. Judge Ed consoled Charlotte about their absense.

Oh! Snap!

Oh! Snap! also went for ACE, and this frame with large wheels and lightweight design had won ACE back in 2012 when it had 2 pilots. On top is an alligator snapping turtle.

The Rampmaster administers another brake check.

As described above, the water exit is one of the most difficult places to advance. ACE rules prohibit pushing directly from the ground or water to the sculpture (and shoes or skies don’t make pushing legal). However, the rules do not prohibit pushing one part of the sculpture from another part—that’s what pedals do. So pilots can also manually crank the wheels, as long as they don't come in contact with the ground. The maneuver pictured here is legal for ACEing.

With large textured wheels, ground clearance, and low gears, Oh! Snap! had a very easy time in the mud.

The pilot reached back to wag the tail in celebration.

Oh! Snap! passed several sculptures on the final hill before the finish line.

Achievement unlocked: a second ACE! In prior years this award-winning sculpture was:

Messie Nessie

From Oakland Mills High School in Columbia came Messie Nessie, a kinetic interpretation of the Loch Ness Monster. As you scroll down, remember how she looked at the beginning of the race.

They had attached additional outrigger pontoons to provide support, but the poles for attachment were far too weak. (It’s easy to inadvertently imagine pontoon supports needing to be strong enough to bear the weight of the pontoons, as they do on land. But once you enter the water, these same supports need to bear the weight of the entire sculpture and pilots.)

First the outriggers bent upward. Then since all remaining floatation was in the center, the sculpture rolled easily, backward in this case, until it completely inverted like a re-enactment of The Poseidon Adventure.

With less sculpture, the rest of the race went faster. They pushed so fast through the sand that pit crew were running once they exited.

This is the fourth year of OMHS Kinetic entries:

For cleaning the messie debris of the shrinking sculpture, the team won the Best Pit Crew trophy, shown here.

Earhart Returns!

Earhart Returns! from the Friends School of Baltimore is the reappearance of Amelia Earhart, with pontoon-mounted ceiling fan blades as propellers.

The cockpit dashboard was a map of the world.

The Friends School has entered thrice before:


Race sponsor Tröegs Brewing Company of Hershey, Pennsylvania returned with Nator, a horned Viking carrying a keg with each arm.

This year, Nator’s head leaned a bit to the left.

On the water, Nator lost his head on the dock.

Nator also raced last year:

Nator broke through a thematically-appropriate tape at the finish line.

Third Law (Land Punt)

Kinetinaut Ross lives in France now, so he hasn’t raced since 2009. Back in town briefly, he reunited the old crew to build the most amazing kinetic sculpture they could make in one week. The result is Third Law (Land Punt)

On the water, Third Law Land Punt was uncatastrophic, even when queued behind a struggling ACE team.

This looks more like modern dance than is typical for kinetic races.

Their name references Isaac Newton’s awesomely elegant principle they used for propulsion:

To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts... If you press a stone with your finger, the finger is also pressed by the stone.

They won the Judges’ Fill-in-the-Gap award, for reasons to be added here later.

This team originated at University of Maryland Baltimore County, and was also involved in:

Trojnan Horse

Returning after five years away with a co-pilot and a medical degree, Trojnan Horse expanded on 2013’s Frednan. The two pilots ran the entire race, hiding inside a Trojan horse made of 60 pool noodles.

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.

—Franz Kafka

That's Carey the Carrot, their mandatory sock creature, in the horse’s mouth.

This entry heavily violated both Race Rule #6 and the 8% Total Body Wetness Rule and would be totally disqualified from ACEing.

Racers can violate most rules that aren’t ACE or safety-related with only time penalties applied.


Shreker comprised six bicycles fastened together. It was a last-minute entry.

They cruised through the sand…

…but bogged down in the mud and ended up dismounting and walking through.

They took some damage along the way, but continued riding to the finish.

Paul’s Bunions & Babe (Fifi)

Fifi, the American Visionary Art Museum’s iconic kinetic poodle, returned with a new color, horns, and a nose ring. Recast as Paul’s Bunions Babe the blue ox, Fifi drew considerable attention through the inner harbor.

Fifi needed some assistance to climb the hills.

She cruised by St. Casimir’s church.

For managing and growing the craziness of the race for the past 20 years, the judges awarded the Spirit of the Glorious Founder award to Race Director Theresa Segreti.

The Golden Fleece

From Digital Harbor High School, The Golden Fleece brought high-riding pilots atop a sturdy frame of effective kinetic simplicity. The gnarly tread with hard pavement rings were great for all terrain.

Through the sand and mud they drove the sculpture, which had raced before as Agogosaurus.

They broke down sometime after the mud, and couldn’t repair it on the spot. So they pushed their sculpture, which as you might expect is slower than riding it. All the other teams passed them, one-by-one. The judges wagon passed them, and they attempted to thumb a ride. By the time they made it to the finish line, all the other teams had finished.

This first photo shows Golden Fleece handily charging up steep Federal Hill in a nice low gear, with no assistance of any kind.

For their audacious breakdown-following attempts to hail a ride with the passing judges, they were awarded the Golden Dinosaur award, for “most memorable breakdown”.

Opening Ceremonies

The Opening Ceremonies started with the New Baltimore Twilighters Marching Band.

Then the Charm City Bronze Handbell Ensemble performed.

Then the New Wave Singers of Baltimore sang the National Anthem.

AVAM Founder Rebecca Hoffberger, Sister Euphonia O’Blivion, and Kinetic Mother Theresa Segreti addressed the crowd, and the racers prepared for the Le Mans launchgong to start the race.


This race would not be possible without the Baltimore City Police Department, who ensure the human-powered sculptures safely navigate the racecourse.

The Baltimore City Fire Department provides safety.

Volunteers, Spectators, & Pit Crew

These people came prepared for the race.

You can help the 2019 race! Join the volunteer email list!.

The team

This annual coverage on is brought to by the All-Terrain Photography Team:

  • Frank Conlan
  • Johanna Goderre
  • Tom Jones
  • Derrick Dasenbrock
  • Rich Wilke

See you again May 4, 2019!

Show individual pages
  1. 2018 Grand Champion: Baltimore Wheel Estate
  2. Off the Rails
  3. 3 Sculptures From St. Paul’s Schools
  4. Spacecation
  5. Unidentified Flying Platypus (UFP)
  6. Monster Under the Bed
  7. Revenge of the Sea
  8. The Jemicy Three
  1. Tick Tock the Croc
  2. High Hat
  3. Dazzlin’ Dino & the Sneeshaws
  4. Oh! Snap!
  5. Messie Nessie
  6. Earhart Returns!
  7. Nator
  8. Third Law (Land Punt)
  1. Trojnan Horse
  2. Shreker
  3. Paul’s Bunions & Babe (Fifi)
  4. The Golden Fleece
  5. Opening Ceremonies
  6. Thanks!
  7. Volunteers, Spectators & Crew
  8. The Team
12/5/2021 4:19:19 AM   12/6/2021 6:49:59 AM   1:4   2:1   3:2   4:   5:3   6:   7:   8:2   9:1   10:1   11:1   12:   13:   14:1   15:2   16:   17:2   18:2   19:1   20:4   21:4   22:1   23:1   24:2   25:   26:   27:   28:   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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