Dozens of hand-made human-powered vehicles meandered the streets of Charm City this weekend, veering through sand, mud, and even plunging in to (and out of) the harbor. The Kinetic Sculpture Race is an event unique to Baltimore, and a perfect fit for Charm City. Its sponsor is the American Visionary Art Museum, itself a perfect fit.

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Inside Homecoming Queen Fifi

This year I took advantage of MARC’s new weekend service to travel from DC. It’s a much cheaper alternative to Amtrak, but the earliest you can arrive at Penn Station is 10:05am. That was too late to make the opening ceremony on Federal Hill, so I took the 11 bus straight to Canton Waterfront Park. The stop before Penn Station – Baltimore’s main train hub – is the West Baltimore stop, which is technically closer to Federal Hill than Penn Station, but the neighborhood is bombed-out without the best transit options.

Canton has a large park consisting mostly of a large parking lot. It’s easy to get a view of the vehicles running down the ramp into the water. The next stage of the race is in Patterson Park, a mile to the north. This large park is home to the obstacle course, consisting of a sand pit and a mud pit. I love hearing the crowds cheer on the contestants. From there it’s a 2.5-mile walk back to the museum, a bit of a trudge, but worth it in order to catch the awards ceremony, which is heartwarming and funny. The trophies are themselves works of art.

Here are my favorite photos from the day.

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Homecoming Queen Fifi on the water

Kinetic Sculpture Race
“Fire,” from St Paul’s School

Kinetic Sculpture Race
“Cornography,” from Team 1800 Lbs

Kinetic Sculpture Race
“PLATYPUS Lost” (Personal Long-range All-terrain Yacht, Proven UnSafe)

Kinetic Sculpture Race
“AMS Swagon,” from Arbutus Middle School

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Sweet Wynona Whale

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Tick Tock the Croc

Kinetic Sculpture Race
“Going for ACE of Cakes,” from the Jemicy School

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Fifi approaching the mud obstacle

Kinetic Sculpture Race
“Good Dog & The Big Itchy Flea Circus”

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Bumpo the Elephant

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Tick Tock the Croc

Kinetic Sculpture Race
“Have Your Cake & Eat It Too,” from the Jemicy School

Kinetic Sculpture Race
Two “Fire” teammates with St Paul’s School

The Visionary Arts Museum does a fantastic job with this event, now in its 16th year. Now we need the City of Baltimore to step up its game and make improvements to help this defining annual event. The Canton Waterfront Park needs major attention, and at the very least they need to skim the junk out of the water the morning of the event. Patterson Park is an amazing resource, but it is also in need of some attention.

For more photos, see the kinetic2014 tag. For photos from last year, see 2013 Kinetic Sculpture Race.

2014 Kinetic Sculpture Race

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