We hit the streets, roofs, and piers of Humboldt County, California For their annual Kinetic Sculpture Race. This is the original home of these races, but there are now nearly a dozen around the country, and many of these contraptions will also be seen in the Corvallis race and at Burning Man.
Despite the increased number of races, there has been a decrease in the quantity of the more impressive and original machines, owing mostly to the loss of Calistoga and Yakima as sponsors. In recent years, Duane Flatmo has been almost carrying the race, with his fire breathing dragon from last year being the best I’ve seen. There are still a good number of smaller entries as well, which are what keeps the race unpredictable and full of personality, as well as some returning favorites.
Duane Flatmo’s entry this year was an aluminum lobster made of recycled parts and complete with pinchy claws and working jaws and tail, done in the same style as his previous Kinetic Carp and dragon. He was sponsored by FoxFarm.
Mad River Brewing Company sponsored this train. Just look at this guy racing a beer train through the streets of Arcata, he couldn’t be happier.
By far the most daring entry of the year has to go to this float, entitled Classical Nudes. Its drivers were dressed in nude suits and created quite a stir. They were pursued by a pit crew filled with some very stern looking nuns in mini skirts and roller skates. The statue on top was hinged, and could be easily secured for the tougher parts of the race.
There is one float that has been in the races in recent years that pretty much just gets a new name and paint job each time, but I’m always glad to see it. It has won numerous awards and seems to me to have the best engineering for the various trials of these races, taking to the water like a duck. Why mess with perfection? This year it was going under the name A Black Tie Affair.
I don’t know the story on this one, so I’m going to say it was inspired by something someone saw in a vision after eating some bad sushi. It would seem to be a giraffe from outer space with ruby slippers.
Guy racing a camel. The legs were attached to his pedals. I think he was associated with a group riding a flying carpet.
This is one of those events that brings all sorts of people together. I thought this was a great picture of the spectators around the judges. Worthy of a caption contest.
For more on these races, crossing the sand dunes, and some video see my post on Kinetic Sculpture Race 2009.