The Weirdest, Most Grueling Northern California Race You’ve Never Heard Of

The Kinetic Grand Championship isn't just a race. It's not just art. And it certainly isn't a parade...


The Kinetic Grand Championship is an annual event held in Arcata, CA where championship pieces of art race over land, sand, water and mud for over 40 miles. The competitors don’t race for money, for the only thing that matters to Kinetinauts is glory.

It’s not just a race. It’s not just art. And it certainly isn’t a parade…

Photo by Jessica L Webster
Photo by Lost Coast Outpost

The event was founded by metal sculptor Hobart Brown in 1969 where racers flew down a two block dash down Main Street Ferndale, CA. Today the event is a 3 day marathon spanning over 40 miles of Humboldt County California’s towns, beaches, trails, and Rivers every Memorial Day Weekend.

Photo by Erik Fitzpatrick

The vehicles for this race are called Kinetic Sculptures- all-terrain human-powered art vehicles, engineered to race over road, water, mud and sand. They are impressive works of sculpture and engineering loaded with kinetic thrills like animated faces, fire cannons, and unusual drive mechanisms.

Awards of the event include Best Engineering, Best Art, Best Speed and Best Pageantry.


Kinetic Racing teams consist of pilots, pit crews and peons. Pilots power their sculpture and steer, the pit crews assists the pilots in transforming the vehicle for the various challenges and fixing mechanical issues, and peons, well, they do whatever is needed for the team to get glory.


Day 1 of the KGC starts on the Arcata Plaza, at the noon siren. The racers take off to the Manila dunes, where they race through miles of sand to the imposing and inevitable “Deadman’s Drop”. Then on to Eureka’s Halvorsen Park for the Finish Line party where spectators can see the sculptures up close after their harrowing day.


Day 2 starts in Eureka at the waterfront on the Humboldt Bay, where brave Kinetic Pilots race their crafts through the water (hopefully floating). Then back on land where they’ll trudge up Hookton Hill, a grueling 1 mile up, and a white knuckle 7% grade down.


Day 3 Memorial Day Teams start from the private racers’ campout at Crab Park where they will head over land to cross the Eel River under Fernbridge. The last leg of the KGC takes teams through the cow pastures of the Eel River Valley, and on to the Finish line on Ferndale’s quaint and historic Main Street, where they will celebrate for a while before heading to the Final Awards Dinner.


Here is the launch from the 2017 Kinetic Grand Championships:

There is also a Kinetic Museum in Eureka, CA. For information on the Kinetic Grand Championship, go here

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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