Great Handcar Regatta 2010

Great Handcar Regatta 2010

Photograph by sassymonkeymedia

It’s always fun anticipating what might be hitting the tracks at the Great Handcar Regatta, Santa Rosa, California’s throwback celebration of ingenuity, sportsmanship, and general hilarious mayhem. We love Handcar Regatta because it’s right up our alley and in our backyard to boot. This year, MAKE is presenting the prestigious Make: Spectacular Failure Award in honor of embracing failure as the great pathway to learning. Our favorite Thomas Edison quote (which appeared in MAKE Volume 22) is: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I am honored to be on the Handcar Regatta Distinguished Roster of Finicky Race Judges and can’t wait to check out what curious contraptions the industrious crews have put together. The Regatta has simple rules for participation. Vehicles have to race on the old railroad tracks of the historic Railroad Square, and beyond that there are rules like:

  • Rail-bound vehicles for competition shall be human-powered.
  • Racers and builders are one. Those who would ascend a contraption upon the rails to compete shall too be the builders of said vehicle.
  • Speed is not necessarily of utmost value in a Handcar Regatta race. Ostentation, bewilderment, whimsy, beauty, ridiculousness, and capturing the fancy of a seven-year-old girl are all reasons to build calamitous contraptions upon the rails.

Did I mention there’s also a Fantastical Pants Award for most aesthetic? These peeps don’t mess around!

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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