On May 5th, a pedal-powered, floating vehicle dubbed “The 1%” won the Grand Mediocre East Coast Championship at the 2012 Baltimore kinetic sculpture race. The 1% was sponsored by Proteus Bicycles of north College Park.
According to the race website, “kinetic sculptures are amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race. The eight-hour race covers 15 miles—mostly on pavement, but also including a trip into the Chesapeake Bay and through mud and sand.”
Here is the description of The 1% from the official race results:
“The 1%” was described in the spectator’s guide as “a comic look at the widening divide between the Haves and the Have-Nots. [T]his 2-pilot entry is reportedly cast of solid gold, using wood from endangered rainforests for cupholders, and seat cushions made from Donald Trump hairpieces wrapped in baby seal skins.”
Using the terms coined by the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, the joke was that “the 99%” would be called on many times to bail out “The 1%” when it encountered mechanical difficulties or needed a push through the mud!
The vehicle was piloted Ryan Parnell, dressed in top hat and tux, and Marianna Ruggiero, wearing a gold-sparkling 1920s-style party dress. A large group from Proteus (including two dogs in one backpack) rode their bikes from Greenbelt to Baltimore to serve as the pitcrew for the team, repairing flat tires and giving homemade cookies to the judges. (Bribing the judges is encouraged by the official race rules.)
Proteus shop manager Jill DiMauro exclaimed “I can’t believe it floated” when the craft gracefully entered Baltimore harbor. She shouldn’t have worried – the floatation needs were meticulously calculated (over quite a bit of beer) by Jack Hellerstedt, Josh Wood, and Chris Schroeder, graduate students in physics at the University of Maryland. The shop was closed for the day so that whole staff could enjoy the festivities.
Other notable or prize-winning sculptures included an enormous rolling cannon with 16 foot wheels, a giant floating poodle named Fifi, an full-size elephant, an elegant 20-foot blue silkworm, an elaborately decorated Chinese royal barge “The Bling Dynasty,” and a huge and strangely delicious looking banana split. The Art Award was given to an entry call “Yes! Oui! Cancan,” which featured some very hairy “French maids” and a replica of the Eiffel Tower built from 4,000 wine corks.
All of the accompanying photos are by Curtis Scroggins.