*The da Vinci Days Graand Kinetic Challenge 2023

*Bad news: this event has been cancelled for 2023 due to unforseen circumstances. They are planning to be back for 2024!

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

Leonardo da Vinci

The da Vinci Days Graand Kinetic Challenge (GKC), featuring wild and whimsically engineered human-powered art sculptures racing each other over various obstacle courses for two days, is happening on July 15th and 16th.  Spectators and participants enjoy the crazy-fun spectacles, colorfully costumed teams, and creative activities throughout the weekend and throughout town.

“Kinetic sculptures are moving works of art, pedaled by human power over a rigorous, all-terrain course by teams of fun-loving racers,” says Reed Lacy, Race Director of the da Vinci Day’s Graand Kinetic Challenge. 

This year, the race’s theme is “Full Steam Ahead,” where entrants decorate their kinetic vehicles to showcase their interpretation.  Part of the joyous celebration of the event is that it engages people with science, technology, engineering, art, and math combined with pageantry!

Saturday’s course starts at the Benton County Fairgrounds with an all-sculpture parade, then around Bald Hill and returning to the fairgrounds to conquer a human-made sand dune. After that, they head down to Central Park, where they circle around The Art Center and return back to the Fairgrounds.  Saturday night is the Lumenata Sculpture Light Parade with live music.   

On Sunday, the competitors come to Crystal Lake to tackle a 175-foot-long mud bog, then reconfigure their sculpture to hopefully float down the Willamette River to Michael’s Landing. They proceed through Downtown, heading down Madison Ave past The Whiteside Theater and The Art Center, ending at the Fairgrounds.

“The racers and their pit crews are part of the art, decked out in costumes and trying to outcompete each other in the entertaining show they put on for the spectators,” says Lacy.  Teams compete for many awards, including whimsical ones such as “Cuddly Teddy Bear,” “Wizard’s Choice,” “King of Kluck,” and the much-coveted “The Leo.”  The Leo, named after Leonardo da Vinci, is awarded only to those teams who successfully traverse the entire course without getting stuck and needing a push.

In 2022 there were 16 teams from Oregon, California, and Washington. Corvallis became a part of the kinetic sculpture circuit in 1993, which currently includes Eureka, CA, Port Townsend, WA, and Klamath Falls.  In years past, the race was an integral part of the da Vinci Days Festival, while currently, the GKC is the focal point, with events and activities organically springing up around it. The public is encouraged to participate in all the activities.  If they have lights on their bikes or costumes, they are invited to be in the Lumenata Sculpture Light Parade Saturday night!

Lacy exclaims, “Why do we do this?  For the Fun of it!  For the Glory!”  And Hobart Brown, founder of Kinetic Sculpture Racing, would enthusiastically affirm, “It’s important for kids to see adults having fun so that they want to grow up.”

Event Schedule


9-11 Tech Check, Art & Engineering judging – by Auditorium

11-1 Pageantry performances – Oak Grove

2:00 Parade start of the race – near the Oak Grove

2:05 -2:30 Bald Hill loop – out, around, and back

2:30 – 3:30 Sand Dune Challenge – west end Fairgrounds parking lot

2:30 – 5:00 Race to Central Park and back

6:00 – 8:00 Racer dinner – Oak Grove

9:15 – Lumenata Sculpture Light Parade – Fairgrounds


10-12 Mud Bog – Which kinetic sculptures will make it through the mud?

12:30 – 1:30 River entry – Which sculptures will float down the river successfully?

1:00 – 2:30 River exit – Which sculptures will successfully ride out of the water at Michaels Landing?

1:00 – 3:30 Road race back to the Fairgrounds finish line in Oak Grove.

5:30 Awards ceremony – Oak Grove at the Fairgrounds

For race rules, registration, opportunities to volunteer, maps, and other information, please go to https://www.davincidays.org.

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