MAX Update No. 9: But is it Art?

| 9/16/2008 1:41:41 PM

Tags: MAX, Auto X Prize, 100 mpg,

We were a big hit at Art Walk. People had a million questions and we were swamped most of the evening. But we had a lull while the fire-eating exotic dancer was performing, so I snapped this shot.

Art Walk is a regular feature here in Cave Junction. We're just north of the Oregon/California border, so we have lovely warm evenings during the summer. With that in mind, every second Friday of every summer month, selected artists show their work on Main Street. It's an opportunity for the community to get together and talk about something aside from politics. Anyway, last month, one of the organizers said our cars were beautiful. Then I said we make them ourselves and the next thing I knew, I was a selected artist for Art Walk.

I'd worked out a patter, sprinkled with phrases such as “the art of economy,” but everybody seemed to accept MAX as a piece of kinetic sculpture; the gas mileage thing was frosting on the cake. And since Art Walk is about things to look at, we brought The Plague along too.

MAX and The PlagueSee that black car next to MAX, the one covered with SCCA Solo Championship stickers? The one with the 44 inch high stack of racing tires behind it? That's MAX's evil twin, The Plague. It has a Honda CBR1000F sport bike engine, whereas MAX has a Kubota tractor engine. The Plague has about five times the horsepower of MAX and is a serious, national-level autocrosser.

Autocross is the art of high-performance driving on extremely tight courses, zipping around cones in parking lots (temporarily closed off to the public, as you'd expect) and specialized race tracks. The cars run one at a time against the clock — it's low risk, yet high excitement. And because a run typically takes less than a minute and an event is typically three runs per driver, autocross doesn't squander a lot of gas.

We had the hoods off both cars, probably 30 times in three hours, with grownups looking at MAX and saying “Would this run on vegetable oil?,” and youngsters looking at The Plague and saying, “Man, this is totally wicked!” It was a good show.

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