Kinetic Sculpture Races

Last Memorial Day weekend, 29th to 31st May, 2010, we went to watch the Kinetic Sculpture Races in Arcata. We stayed with some new friends in Hydesville, about 20 miles away – we camped in our van, some put up tents in our host's yard, and some stayed in the house. All told, there were 9 of us – it was a fun and relaxing weekend. Click on this logo to go to the official race web site, complete with maps and rules:

Kinetic Grand Championship

I’m sure you have questions:

But first, the Race Motto: For The Glory!

What’s a Kinetic Sculpture?

In a nutshell, it’s a human powered vehicle that’s been built to (a) complete the course and (b) look good doing so. It has to be sound, from an engineering point of view, it has to have brakes, and it will be operating on public roads so has to be street legal. There are four categories of judging: So you can see the importance of style. Some entries have a single rider, and some have multiple riders. The largest this year was the Classic Nudes entry that had 10 riders. As you can imagine, bicycle technology is normal.

What’s the course?

The Kinetic Grand Championship is a 3-day, 42-mile bicycle race over land, sand, mud and water. Many refer to the Kinetic Grand Championship as the “Triathlon of the Art World.”

Vehicles are usually reconfigured for the sand, mud, and water portions of the course. For example, wide wheels work best on the sand dunes and flotation is very helpful for the water portions. The thing to note, though, is that all gear must be carried on the vehicle for the full length of the course.

The following is from the official web site (and apologies for copying it):

The race began 40 years ago in 1969, when world-renowned sculpture artist Hobart Brown challenged Ferndale artist Jack Mays to a race down Ferndale’s Mainstreet. In their kinetic contraptions they started a 40-year Humboldt tradition that has spread to Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Baltimore, Maryland and all the way to Perth, Australia. But it all began here among the majestic redwood groves of Humboldt County.

Day 1 of the Kinetic Grand Championship starts on the Plaza in Arcata, California at the noon whistle every Memorial Day weekend. The racers take off to the Manila dunes, where they race through miles of sand to the great and inevitable “Deadman’s Drop.” Then on to Eureka’s downtown gazebo.

Day 2 starts in Eureka at the waterfront on the Humboldt Bay, where brave Kinetic Pilots race their crafts through the water (most float). Then back on land where kinetic sculptures go up Hookton Hill, a 1 mile-7% incline and decline. Day 2 ends with a private campout for racers and volunteers only.

Day 3 starts from the mouth of the Eel River, through Morgan slough and onto dry land. Racers cross the finish line on Ferndale’s historic Mainstreet, where racers park and head up to the Final Awards Dinner at Ferndale’s Fireman’s Hall.

How do I look at the photos?

There's a selection box on the top left - select one of the options, most of which are the name of a Kinetic Sculpture. A series of thumbnail images for that selection will appear on the left and one of them will be enlarged as the main image.

If you would like to return to this Welcome Page, select the first option from the selection box.

Hints and Tips

For the full effect, maximise your browser window and scroll down the page so the headings are hidden and the page contents (the selection box, thumbnails, and main image) are fully visible.