Rick Peregrino works on his entry for this weekend’s Port Townsend Kinetic Sculpture Race. The two-seat contraption will be able to withstand the course that includes pavement, water, sand and mud. He’s trying on the special mud tire treads over his regular wheels. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Rick Peregrino works on his entry for this weekend’s Port Townsend Kinetic Sculpture Race. The two-seat contraption will be able to withstand the course that includes pavement, water, sand and mud. He’s trying on the special mud tire treads over his regular wheels. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Kinetic Skulpture Race to showcase strange and wonderful vehicles

PORT TOWNSEND — Rick Peregrino, aka Veg, will aim for mediocrity this weekend.

Peregrino and his co-pilot, Chris Kurka, comprise Team Flying Spaghetti Monster, one of 14 teams scheduled to participate in Port Townsend’s 36th Kinetic Skulpture Race.

The race will have a kick-off get-together tonight and begin in earnest Saturday, running through Sunday.

For more about the race, including a schedule of events, see today’s Art & Entertainment section.

The mediocrity award is the most coveted of the race. It is given to the contestants who fell in the exact middle of the field.

Peregrino’s hoping to capture the prize.

“Hard to plan for,” Peregrino said. “Can’t be too fast, can’t be too slow.”

This year’s race has a “mediocre superhero” theme, and Peregrino chose the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a Deity of Pastafarianism, for his entry (en.wiki- pedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster).

Peregrino has been building and participating in kinetic sculpture races since 2002, his machines being made of spare and fabricated parts and recycled materials.

He began racing at the Kinetic Grand Championship in Humboldt County, California.

The races blend art, engineering and physical endurance, he said.

“The original concept started in 1969 in California with a race from Arcata to Ferndale that’s still held,” he said.

“It covers 50 miles over three days. This year, there were 40 entries. It’s tough.

“I didn’t race at first. I was a spectator watching these huge things going down [U.S.] Highway 101. Then I said, ‘This is hard, let’s do this.’ I entered and won a few awards.”

That model is the inspiration for the Port Townsend race and its kraziness.

Peregrino believes the Port Townsend race is the second-longest running one. Kinetic sculpture races are now held in Maryland, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania and California, as well as internationally.

From his workshop in Glen Cove, Peregrino has been working on several models.

“We ended up making a series of these two-seater designs, and I let other people race as well to spread the fun. Sometimes I pit crew for others, too.”

For this weekend’s race, he’s built five two-seaters that will compete. His four-seater model, weighing about 300 pounds and dubbed Plan A, will only participate in the art parade this year.

His smaller models weigh 140 pounds and are designed to be convertible and adaptable.

“You have to carry everything with you so the design has to be able to be changed out for each part of the race: road, water, sand, mud,” he explained. “We have to keep everything with us at all times for our propulsion.

“It begins being set up for the road, with pedicab wheels that go on a one-inch live axle. For the water, there’s pontoons. The inflatable plastic pontoons have to be pumped up, then we’ll deflate them and take them off. For the sand, I have sand tires with serious treads. They will be fitted over the paddle wheels.

“For the mud, there’s a low, low gear. You are peddling a lot but not going anywhere.”

Peregrino said it takes a lot of time to design and assemble one of his machines, probably a month.

“You have to be an artist, an innovator, a fabricator, a welder, a parts finder and a bike person.”

And a little krazy.

For more information, see www.ptkineticrace.org.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or [email protected]

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