"Adults are obligated to have fun so that children will want to grow older." –Hobart Brown, Glourious Founder of Kinetic Sculpture Racing
Hobart Brown was born on February 27, 1934, to a fifteen-year-old mother in Hess, Oklahoma. His young parents then migrated across the country, riding together on one motorcycle. Hobart said his childhood mirrored the classic "Okie" dustbowl experience, "like the Grapes of Wrath." He attended High School in Los Angeles, and acquired welding skills while working at an airplane manufacturing plant for the US Army. It was there that he decided he wanted to be an artist. Gathering his wife and two sons, Hobart moved to Humboldt County, California, and opened an art gallery. There he met a wealthy art patron determined to revitalize the small town of Ferndale, California. Hobart moved his art gallery and family there and would make wire sculptures to pay the mortgage. The Kinetic Sculpture Race was born out of an accident. While Hobart was modifying his son's tricycle into a "Pentacycle," another local artist/gallery owner challenged him to a race. Others fast joined in, and the Race was spread from sheer fun. Hobart declared, "Losing can be as glorious as winning if you do it right." He institutionalized the notion that the spirit is what brings about glory and his Kinetic Sculpture Race's highest award is "The Mediocre Award"—a coveted prize for finishing dead center in any given race.
Hobart's Race rules are hilarious and community-building. They have been wholly adopted by Kinetic Sculpture Race enthusiasts from California to Australia, and involve land, mud, and sea challenges. The largest East Coast USA Race is held each Spring here at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore (more info), and continues to be dedicated to Hobart's Vision. His last decade was spent battling severe rheumatoid arthritis, which he overcame by his elfin, childlike enthusiasm for all things fun, topped with a doctor's prescription for morphine. He viewed his race as a bulwark against suicide. In 1999 Hobart Brown was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. He died in Fortuna, California, on November 7, 2007.
To learn more about Hobart Brown, check out his Wikiepedia page. For more on the annual Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race, visit http://www.kineticbaltimore.com.