Chariot races! Jankety, cobbled together, dangerous-to-even-look-at chariots, pedal-powered versus jet-powered versus people-pulling-a-rebuilt-Idiotarod-shopping cart versus a motorcycle-with-minor-variations smashing and crashing and racing around a tightly-turning track in heats of four, all for crappy trophies but tons of glory, admiration, and envy at your boundless intestinal fortitude, brilliant creativity, and clever use of limited building skills. Tattoos are for wusses (did you know you can just walk in off the street and BUY tattoos? How punk rock)- scars have to be earned.

The Madagascar Institute will be running Chariot Races at Maker Faire NYC, September 25th and 26th at the New York Hall of Science out in Queens. (we will also be doing a whole bunch of other stuff, like running ten years’ worth of dubious carnival rides and a whole rube-fueled midway- more to come on that later this Summer). We want you to be a part of it. We want you to make a chariot, and race it, and if you survive we guarantee that you will get so, so laid. (or, at least: screwed. Whatever.) .

We are going for something like that classic scene from Ben Hur ( ttp:// ) except without horses, but with more whips, dirty tricks, and Charlton Heston.

To keep things interesting, we have decided to distill out the essence of chariot-ness and leave that as the only necessary condition, and pretty close to the only rules: the thing has to move, and it needs to have at least one person standing, nobly, exposed and unsupported from the ribs up. If it fits those criteria it is a chariot. All the rest (how it is propelled, how many people ride on it, the defensive/offensive weaponry) is up to you.

There are a few more things- not rules, per se, but caveats and things you should know:

-A web entry form will be live soon, but before that e-mail if you want to build a chariot. Include a team name, contact info, the size of your crew and number of riders, and a little something about your chariot.
-No projectile weapons. If you want to hit your opponents with something, by all means go for it, but take responsibility for your actions and tie that water balloon to a stick.
– No whining. There will be blood: We expect, and are looking forward to, mayhem. You will prob be crushed, burnt, spindled, poked, and ground into a fine paste. People will laugh at your misfortune. If the possibility of the Hurting is too much for you stay away. Riders assume all risk. Also, the races might or might not be “fair”.
– There is no money. We are operating on a budget of zero, which after our expenses leaves zero to give you, so we will not help fund your Chariot, no matter how awesome, there will be no prize money, and we will not pay to repair you or your thing after it is destroyed during the race. However, we might provide transportation to get your Chariot from Gowanus to Queens, and there will prob be beer for participants. Details will come in September.
– No fake ideas. We do not want to hear about the awesome thing that you thought of but will not actually make.Reality is a lot more interesting. -If you want to be a part of the Chariot races but do not know how to make anything and don’t want to learn, or if your talents lie in other areas we can still use you. For example, we are willing to act as a conduit to link up workers without ideas and idea people without tools and so on, but it would be better if someone more organized than us stepped up to do this. Also, there will be a ton of work for costuming, set dressing, barking, trumpet playing, and on and on. If you want to be a part of this in any way e-mail

We want this call to go out far and wide, to all the people out there making cool, dangerous shit (or, at least, really really wanting to) that we do not know and have never met; the people who are inspired and scheming and building but have been lacking a concrete goal and solid deadline. Forward this on to all of the metalworkers, gearheads, and builders, actual or aspiring that you know. Maker Faire has been a big deal in the Bay Area for a few years now, and it has become yet another chance for grubby, Burning Man obsessed Oaklanders with their ginormous spaces and repetitive fire art to shine. Enough of that- Maker Faire is coming to NYC, and this is your chance to represent.


the above was copied verbatim (minus the image which I inserted) from a “Mada” email. For another example of not only how serious but honest they are about their call to arms, check out this video from Gadgetoff ’09 featuring a DIY jet-powered merry-go-round they built:

(takeoff is around the 1:20 mark)