The Kinetic Sculpture Race is a mobile art display as only Baltimore can do it. This past weekend, 37 teams built vehicles powered only by their own legs. The creations had to traverse 14 miles, up and down hills, not to mention a plunge into the Baltimore Harbor, through a sand pit and even a mud pit. The American Visionary Art Museum guides the event, now in its 15th year. The morning starts with a raucous blessing of the pilots, after which the teams runs down the grassy slope of Federal Hill and climb aboard their vehicles to start their journeys. These photos show some of the creative entrants I saw as I followed the race through Baltimore.

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Get Tanked in Federal Hill

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The Red Baron Sails in Federal Hill

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Steamed Punk in Federal Hill

The race passes the Inner Harbor on Pratt Street, where one lane had been reserved for the event with a minimum of fuss. Just a few cones separated the racers from downtown traffic.

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Dr. Vlad’s Mad Lab on Pratt St

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Tony’s Trampoline on Pratt St

The next part was in the Canton Waterfront Park. I got there by water taxi. There wasn’t a direct trip from the Inner Harbor, so I had to go to Fells Point and then transfer. At Canton, the vehicles enter the water and have to paddle their way around a dock. Afterwards the teams have lunch in the park.

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Agogosaurus in Canton

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Go Ask Alice in Canton

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Loose Cannon in Canton

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You Know The Drill in Canton

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Back Alley Farm in Canton

From there I walked along the route to Patterson Park, where the obstacle courses were. The first challenge is the sand pit.

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Frednan in Patterson Park

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Greendustrial Revolution in the Patterson Park sand pit

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Not-So-Angry Bird in Patterson Park

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AMS Crab in Patterson Park

The mud pit was a more perilous challenge. Many vehicles entered the mud and just came to a stop. And it was the setting for some unexpected romance, when Fifi, the giant pink poodle, delivered a small box to one of the guys volunteering in the mud. He opened the box and got on one knee, and proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the mud pit, the same spot where they had met three years earlier (proposal photo).

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Holy Grail in the Patterson Park mud pit

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Desdemona Duck in the Patterson Park mud pit

When the last vehicle made it through, everyone was invited to jump in the mud pit and get messy.

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Patterson Park mud pit

I followed the race out of the Park via Lombard Street, and then when I fell behind caught a bus back downtown, where I saw them returning back to the museum.

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Fifi on Lombard St

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Frog on Lombard St

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Hogwarts Express on Pratt St

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T-Wrecks on Pratt St

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Bumpo on Pratt St

The Kinetic Sculpture Race brings out the best in Baltimore. Charm City, indeed!

To see all 254 photos, see the kinetic2013 tag. For photos from the 2011 event, see Baltimore’s Kinetic Sculpture Race takes art for a ride and the kinetic13 tag.

2013 Kinetic Sculpture Race

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