Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race is an organization whose mission is to host and produce an annual kinetic sculpture race within the city of Lowell, Massachusetts. Kinetic sculptures are all-terrain, human-powered, art sculptures made from repurposed materials and engineered to race over road, water, mud and sand. LKSR strives to inspire the engineers and visionaries of the future by promoting the synthesis of the STEM fields, the arts, disruptive innovation, and physical activity. The race is open to all ages and works with the students of local universities, high schools, vocational schools, and after-school programs. LKSR is the only race of this kind in New England, and not only expands the artistic diversity of Lowell, but reinforces it as a hub of innovation. LKSR proves that collaboration and an interdisciplinary mix of the arts, science, engineering, mathematics, and technology can overcome truly great challenges.
First things first…
What a Kinetic Sculpture Race is:
Kinetic Sculptures are all-terrain, human-powered, art sculptures, engineered to race over road, water, mud and sand. Kinetic sculptures are amazing works of art; many are animated with moving parts like blinking eyes, opening mouths, heads that move side to side and up and down. These machines of art are usually made from what some people consider “junk” or better put, recycled materials.
Each kinetic team has a theme and consist of pilots, pit crew and support crew. Kinetic pilots pedal the sculpture and steer, the pit crew assists the pilots in transforming the vehicle for the various elements and fixing mechanical issues, and support crew (minions), well, they do whatever is needed for the team to get glory. Spectators are encouraged to either watch from the sidelines or follow the race on their bikes (obeying all traffic laws that apply). Seeing these marvels of art and engineering turns many people on to bike culture, reminds them of how much fun riding your bike can be and also the wealth of recycled materials that is all around us. Learn more about the history of Kinetic Sculpture Racing here.
Several races exist around the United States, with the original race, The Kinetic Grand Championship in Humboldt County, California. See the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race (also known as the East Coast Championship), Port Townsend Kinetic Sculpture Race in Port Townsend, Washington, and the Ventura Kinetic Sculpture Race in Ventura, California for other examples.
On September 24th, 2016, Lowell experienced its first kinetic sculpture race. It was an unforgettable day filled with feats of engineering traversing the city’s streets, battling a mud pit, and navigating the Merrimack River. An estimated 3500 people attended this free, family-friendly event that included not only the race, but activities for kids and families, live bands, food trucks, and a theatrical opening ceremony, all held at three different locations throughout the city. This STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) focused event also provided spectators of all ages the opportunity to see these engineered sculptures overcome several daunting terrain challenges within the race.
The first year was a great success, and immediately following the event, the race received a Commendation from the City of Lowell with the request that it become an annual event.
On the morning of September 23rd, teams will line up on one side of Market Street for spectators, officials and the random bystander to get a close look at the marvelous engineering prowess of the sculptures about to race. The start will be a Lemans style start (pilots will be across the street from their sculptures wait for the sound of the start then run to their sculptures, get in and start pedaling) and will make its way through the city to the mud pit then will continue on to the Lowell Heritage State Park and Beach to plunge into the waters of the Merrimack River. Once out of the water they will race back to the finish line on Market Street. All teams will be following the race rules. Here are the 2017 LKSR Official Rules
Want to know where to watch the race? Check out our Spectator Guide.