Cuba Dupa 2017

On March 25, 2017, a splendid group of Steampunkers (collective noun yet to be settled upon) assembled at Cuba Dupa in Dixon St, Wellington, to Splendidly Race Teapots (STR). The race occurred after a very spectacular and noisy parade from Ghuznee St down Cuba Mall to the racing arena. This marvellous Steampunk event was organised by the awesome members of Capital! Steam and extra race track pieces were purloined from Steampunk Taranaki.

The combined obstacles resulted in the nose hair withering double Ramp of Doom making its first appearance, yes, you heard it correctly the DOUBLE Ramp of Doom (DRoD). The DRoD was a darsedly and devious adaptation to the wacky races and caused a considerable amount of consternation (especially in the middle bit).


Making its first grand appearance was Capital! Steams Victoria’s Bells a stunning little number made by the talented Martyn and succeeded in snagging a few rigs – the ones that attempted U-turns.  Making a significant impression on the Captain and I was, Steampunk Taranaki’s wibbly wobbly bridge with the additional reminder of danger,  a Monty Pythonesque skeleton at the base. So enamoured with the potential of this obstacle, that, the Captain and I are in serious negotiations to recreate this for Oamaru.


There are some standout honourable mentions of peculiar antics in a spectacular day of fun and frivolity, notably the spectators who enjoyed all the usual thrills and spills of STR.  An estimated 1000 people of the 100,000 strong crowd stopped and viewed the racing, we very much congested the street.


Professor Phoenicea Carwardine and I enjoyed first-rate bribery which was again of a superb standard.  The Steam Mahouts did themselves proudly and provided the very best Royal Darjeeling sweet tea and sweets.  There were lashings of chocolate, quince pears and assorted shiny bits, all very much appreciated.  Some bribes were essential, especially to cover up such unexpected events such as heads rolling off…..

JC Hortense
Hortense St George – who lost her head! ( the tea pot not the driver) – photo credit Jane Craven 

The stand out contraption of the day, complete with mini me was, of course, Kat Douglas’ Splendid mobility device, the Katmobile.  While the Katmobile (the larger) disgraced its self in an attempt to manoeuvre on the course, the mini-me clone did not.  In the skilled hands of Neave R Willoughby, mini-me performed quite satisfactorily.

Neave Willoughby in the Katmobile, attempting the course while the judges were not looking! Photo credit – Jane Craven 

The good Colonel Hawthorne driving the Snark Cooker took some obstacles with him for a small drive. The professor and I were momentarily worried that this would result in a disqualification for breaching height restrictions but breathed a collective sigh of relief as the “Snark” unhooked itself and emerged unscathed.

The valiant Captain Various also rearranged the Chasm of Death on the course, but as co-inventor of STR, we thought he could take liberties. However  Snoopy didn’t like the wibbly wobbly bridge.

Special mention to the splendid efforts of our younger drivers who totally embodied the spirit of Splendid Teapot Racing – Huzzah!


The SuccessfulCandidates 2017

(VOUCHER Clockwork Steampunk Emporium) Most entertaining: Spencer – Driver: Prof. Joules Ampere, Steampunk Taranaki

(VOUCHER Clockwork Steampunk Emporium)  Best racing round: Ateapotosaurus traxas wellingtonia – Driver: Lord Edmund, Wellington

Most splendid: Pavel Peacock – Driver: Lady Watsonia Victorious! Ohms, Steampunk Taranaki

Most splendid teapot: Elliot-Hawthorne Snark-Cooker – Driver: Colonel Hawthorne, Capital! Steampunk

Best Bribes: Royal Darjeeling Express – Driver: Steam Mahouts, Capital! Steampunk

Best driver: Hank the Tankpot – Driver: Lord Theadore Rupert Beardaton, Steampunk Taranaki

Best under 20: Ulster Fusion – Driver: Colonial Boy, Wellington

Best Themed Teapot: Mini Pot – Driver: Neave R. Willoughby, Steampunk Christchurch

Colonel’s Award for Splendidness:

Orion, Greytown

Colonel’s Award for Teapot Sheepdog Trials: Lord Edmund, Wellington


All in all a splendid day. Thank you


Getting Cosy

I am getting very excited about the new über creative design and build a Tea Cosy for your Rig category, for the SteampunkNZfestival at Oamaru, Queens Birthday Weekend.

In this category I hope you, even if you’re not racing, can make a tea cosy that ‘could’ either cover your own/partners/friends/ assorted small children and Snark’s Rig (imaginary).

Let your imagination run wild, theme it fantasy, Victorian, modern or steampunk.

Here is a bit of inspiration for you.

I can’t wait to see you there with your creations.

The First Lady of Splendid Teapot Racing -USA

It gives me great pleasure to introduce  to you the ‘First Lady’ of Splendid Teapot Racing: USA Lois Wallace. It also gives me great pleasure to state that her rig ‘Little Bird’ is the first recorded teapot racing rig in the USA.  Little Bird was made in response to Lois viewing a video on Dave Lee’s page, after he came back from the Oamaru Steampunk Festival NZ in June 2015.


In our interview today, a giggling Lois confided to me that “she had never laughed so much in her life and couldn’t stop laughing”, and she knew that she wanted to have a go, so she built Little Bird. Even in our interview  Lois’s  great sense of humour shone through – so I can see how this appeals to her – a bit like the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks.

bullet case

Lois is a manufacturing jeweler, she has lots of handy bits and pieces and also makes steampunk jewelry which she sells in her shop, Victorian Magpie. Lois also made the medal for the first racing. She has also taught soldering to the Virginia group, “so that their teapots will stay together on the course!”

Little Bird

Her rig has lovely details, a steering wheel, a stick shift ( gear lever in NZ ) and even a tiny gauge. Little Bird – we might have to call Big Bird, unfortunately can’t get around the nasty Ramp of Doom, a bit heavy for the unit, so is undergoing a ‘chop’. I am really looking forward to seeing Little Bird Mark 2.  Lois loves the tea party theme and thinks it’s a great fit with steampunk. Lois was attracted to steampunk because, “there are not really any rules,” – it is a personal interpretation of a theme.

the Alice hat- Lois

Lois met Daniel Lee Hawk at an art exhibition that he was in and they have struck up a great friendship. Lois has been very involved in the organisation of the Virginia Chapter, but was unfortunately overseas – in France ( so we will forgive her)  for the very first USA event hosted in August by the Virginia group. Lois has been successfully working behind the scenes to get Splendid Teapot Racing to the Steampunk Worlds Fair  in May 2016 – so look out for this event.

Bette's medal

Thanks  Lois for your mahi (work) and matangareka (enthusiasm) in establishing Splendid Teapot Racing in the USA.

“Gracie’s tea time table” – The first official USA Teapot winner of Excellence

Congratulations to the first winner of the Splendid Teapot USA Racing and a Lady Driver!  “Gracie’s tea time table” built and raced by Bette Cornette Smith from Virginia Beach, Virginia.  It was Bette’s first time ever racing her rig.  Bette who loves having fun, built it a week before the race with her granddaughter in mind as her inspiration.

Gracies tea time table

I chatted to the lovely Bette today, who confided to me that she is a pirate. She has a pirate shop and designs hats, jewelry and clothes! How cool is that! She did not really know what steampunk was until her grandchildren commented on her creations as steampunk. ‘Aunty Peaches,’ they said, ‘this is steampunk!’ Bette said, ‘Whats that?’ and went off to do some research. Unbeknown to me, Bette found Countess Simona’s site and then the Splendid Teapot Racing site. Bette befriended  Daniel Lee Hawk at a Comic Con and over several afternoon tea parties the subject of Splendid Teapot Racing came up and Daniel explained that he was going to host a race event. To which Bette duly attended, apparently with bribes for the judges. Yes, we are impressed!

Bette's medal

Bette Cornette Smith said  that she is in it for the fun and the friendship. Dressing up and meeting others is what motivates her and she didn’t set out with any competitive thoughts at all. When it was announced that she had won the overall award Bette was not expecting it. The beautiful  medal   was made  by Lois Wallace of Victorian Magpie! She said she can make them for $30 USA shipping included, please contact Lois.

Winning words from Bettte – ‘Remember to love what you do. And share that love. Always be kind and gracious.’

Bette sitting

We have the pleasure of adding that Bette’s beautiful photos were taken by LJ PHOTOS   by John Hudson – thank you John they are fantastic photos.

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