Humboldt’s High-Jinks-iest Race

The Arcata/Eureka/Ferndale event is called "the triathlon of the art world."

Kim Sallaway

BUT IS IT DRIVE-ABLE? Whether something can be driven, or moved, or cycled, or propelled, isn't exactly the right question to ask in the world of kinetic racing. The questions should run more along the lines of "will my creation make people laugh?" or "can I make bystanders happy when they see me whirl by in a giant silicon duck on wheels?" or "should my dragon bicycle breathe fake fire?" There is likely a whole gamut of whimsical queries made in the weeks leading up to the Kinetic Grand Championship, one of the prime paragons of weirdness in the kinetic racing world.

WHY IS IT WEIRD? Well it takes place in Humboldt County, which not only embraces people marching to their own drum but practically loans them the drumsticks. (Other places everywhere? Take a lesson on this. Thank you.) And the participants in the Kinetic Grand Championships call their racing mobiles "art sculptures," which they are, but they are never referred to as cold, mechanized machines, which they are not (and they're certainly not mechanized, given that the spirit of kinetic racing is very much about people power).

THE DATES AND DETAILS: The art sculptures will roll and float and zoom and heave and break down and go again over some 42 miles over three days. Those days are Saturday, May 25 through Monday, May 27, and you'll want to be in Arcata, Eureka, and Ferndale to get an eyeful of the outlandish action. And it is outlandish; if you don't think that longtime sculptors aren't trying to outdo each other for sheer fantasy and cheek, you haven't been following the kinetic scene for long enough. Did we mention that the judges are sometimes bribed in the Kinetic Grand Championship? As we said, 100% cheek.

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