A Jolly Good Rig – the Earl Grey

I have to say that I am really impressed with what is happening in USA with Splendid Teapot Racing.  The Splendid Teapot Racing USA – Virginia  Chapter hosted the first race last weekend. And I also found this excellent blog from Over the Crescent Moon about the building of a rig called the Earl Grey. And this is what teapot racing means – inclusion and fun. Thanks Blaze and Mum for a job well done!

what it started life as ....
what it started life as ….

I really enjoyed this blog and I hope it races really well, it just goes to show that you can make something very simply.  You can read about it here.

USA with Daniel Lee Hawk

So, it was with great excitement the Captain Various Miscellaneous BitsandpiecesDaniel and I finally got to skype Daniel Lee Hawk from Chesapeake, Virginia.     The population is estimated to be 232,977 making it the third-most populous city in Virginia, so it’s a bit bigger than Wellington City and a bit smaller than Christchurch City area and it looks nice and green like the Nelson area. We are thinking that there is room for potential and great growth. So there we were, 10pm for us and 4am for Daniel – grown adults talking about international teapot racing….Added bonus, Daniel didn’t even think our accents were too bad….what accents….?

Daniel with some wonderful others has started a Splendid Teapot Racing Chapter in the USA – our first international affiliated group. (OMG – right? Awesome) Daniel, met Lois Wallace, co owner of Victorian Magpie, Virginia Beach,  who was the one to find the NZ videos and was inspired. She thought it was a great idea and Lois made the first teapot racer in the USA, the one titled Pretty Bird. Thanks Lois, ou get the big thumbs up! We also know the Steampunk Convivial in Surrey is also running an event but we haven’t seen a UK Chapter emerge – this position is vacant if any hardy  Brits want to take up the challenge.

How did you find us?

DLH:  Through Dave Lee, and Lois Wallace they come from around this area – (Big thanks Dave and Lois !) I was looking for something to get involved in. I am so excited I have been getting up at 3am to do stuff!

We also have Jamestown very close to us- the first English settlement in the USA (settled in 1606) – so that must be the link to tea!


What do you like about Splendid Teapot Racing?

DLH: It gets a lot of people together that might not get together. I was working on a submarine for 20 years and when I retired I didn’t want to be around people much or travel. I have travelled to nearly every country in the world except NZ and Hawaii.

Oh – was that because it was a nuclear sub? yellow

DLH: Yes

Us: oh wow!

DHK: so I have hung out in my garage with my business and making stuff and this has got me out and about again. (Daniel showed us some cool stuff he had made)

How many people are involved in your area?

DLH:  About 20 people including assorted small children. My son can control the teapot way better than I can!!! We have a weekly Sunday afternoon tea and I make crumpets.

Us: Yum……. P.S. We have  the recipe.


What’s in the future?

DLH: we are looking for a historical venue in over in Gloucester for the last Friday in July 2016 to run a Splendid Teapot Racing event.

Us:  Yay!!!! Much excitement!!!!

What do the locals think?

DLH: People come over and look and think it’s curling, they don’t realise they are motorized. Then they laugh!

Thanks Daniel Lee Hawk 🙂

So What is going on in the USA?

2015 Dragons Viper
Dragons Viper

The Captain and I have to report that we are astounded with the uptake of Splendid Teapot Racing International.

2015 Royal Tea
Royal Tea

The kind folk at Splendid Teapot Racing USA have organised a wonderful page with tons of information on it.

2015 DSC09239 Lois Wallace
Pretty Bird – by Lois Wallace. Under good authority this is the first racing teapot in the USA.

I have included some photos of their rigs and we will be interviewing them soon about their experiences.

2015 Steam on
Steam On


The power of Judging

One of the benefits of being co-inventor, is that I usually judge – I am useless at driving these things any way. Once the bribes are sorted and I am happy we start the event.  Each teapot races individually except for the drag race (another blog to describe the drag race) against the clock – you have 3 minutes. The fastest rig thus far has been Stanley from Wellington at a very subsonic 43 seconds (More about Stanley soon).

Oh the power of that flag!
Oh the power of that flag!

I have 2 flags,  a yellow for penalty and red for disqualification, it is my practice to have a chat to the audience before racing and get the audience participation OOOHHs and AHHHHs working on cue to the flag waving from me or the line out judge.

The boundaries  of the course needs to be about 2.5 meters by 10 – 15 meters if you have a nice flat space. If you don’t have that space you change the course layout to suit the space, we have not really ever had the same space twice and we just adapt the obstacles placement to the space. We try  and have about a meter between individual jumps, ramps and the china – each of the china figures are about 600 apart.

this was a tricky course as it was on a stage, but it was great for the audience to view

We put tape arrows down for people so they don’t get directionally challenged but it really doesn’t matter in what order things occur just that they are completed and then out through the finish posts to stop the timing.

We have been assigning our penalties thus:

1) If you go out over the boundary line – partially, it is a penally – wave yellow flag – audience participation and tick  in the score card box.

2) If you go fully out of the boundary we have been disqualifying – wave red flag -audience participation and tick  in the score card box. –   a non finish in on the scorecard. This rule can be varied depending on the amount of entries  if you have a lot -stick to it or you will be there all night and the audience will get jaded. If you don’t have many racers treat it as a penalty. The helpful hint – have small assorted children and audience sitting close to the line and they will act as a natural bumper!

assorted small children
assorted small children keeping the boundary

3) Manual assists – if any person has to manually assist the rig in ANY manner – hand, foot , walking stick, ray gun etc it is a penalty – wave yellow flag – audience participation and tick  in the score card box.


Judging Splendidness.

Part of the whole deal is to include participation as part of the criteria. Is the driver well turned out? How splendid is the rig? Does it meet the size restrictions? Have they organised a preformance? Did they give a bribe? Did they vex the judge? Did they demonstrate  the aims of Splendid Teapot Racing; teamwork, participation, fun? This is a very good category for families or persons with a disability.

Extra points and comments can also be awarded for crazy driving antics eg somersaults, pirouettes, spectacular fails etc.

Score Card: I have adapted a score card over the last year to reflect all these things and it works fairly well but again it is a guideline.

score card