To prove just how serious this competition is, there are many coveted prizes to be awarded. For example, there is the:
the lowest award known to mankind, this is given to the sculpture whose half-baked theoretical engineering did not deter its pilot from the challenge of the race."
Very Competitive Non-Competitive Category of Awards of Grand East Coast National Mediocre Champion: Awarded to the Sculpture and pilot finishing in the middle. At the World Championship in Ferndale, California, you would win a very mediocre classic car, like a 1957 Rambler, which is, in fact, a really nice mediocre award. But in the Baltimore East Coast National Championship you are guaranteed to win a really mediocre prize.
If you understand these rules, or if these awards sound like just the thing you are looking for, we'll put you in touch with Theresa Segreti (AKA "Mother Theresa) of the American Visionary Art Museum so you can sign up to compete next year.
After having read the rules, it must have become apparent at this point, that Pilots and "Barnacles" seeking to win any of the "Prestigious Awards," can assist that effort by amassing time penalties. The award of time penalties is in fact an extremely important aspect of the race. To this end there is an entire crew of bicycle mounted Kinetic Cops as well as electric vehicle borne Judges, in full robes and powdered wigs, who rove around serving citations for infractions, both real and imagined. Said infractions result in time penalties. Another unique nuance of this highly structured and technical competition is that bribes are encouraged and prepared for with a diligence equal to that applied to the construction of the ridable sculptures. These bribes can be and are offered to, and incidentally generally accepted by, judges, passport officials, and of course the Kinetic Cops. In fact, there is an official award for the most innovative and inspired bribe of the day.
What's it like?
As the sun peaks out to wash over the glowing crowd, we realize that the scale resembles that of Romans watching gladiators as they enter the Coliseum. Baltimore buzzed in anticipation as the crowd of Pilots, Barnacles, Kinetic Cops and Judges listened to an orator review the rules and goals of the day. Then in a celebration of being seriously silly, the pilots release their inner child in the ceremonial "Lifting of the Feet". After the opening statements were made, there was a fevered flurry of excitement and all the Pilots sprinted from atop the hill in a LeMans start (some in high heels). Baltimore's anticipation exploded as the gates opened and the human powered contraptions sprung to life.
Spectators lined the streets, cameras flashed from every direction. As the sun burned off the morning gray, the human powered sculptures tore their way through downtown Baltimore, checking in a passport stations, jockeying for the critical Mediocre Champion Slot, bribing everyone along the way, battling in fiercely serious silliness.