Monday, June 11, 2007

Land of 1,000 Geeks

Smugtown was awash in really smart people with bad fashion sense this past weekend. Including my brother. An event known as SAE Baja was in town, hosted by my bro's Alma Mater. 140 teams from schools and universities around the world showed up to test their offroading skills.

Each team was given what is essentially a powerful lawnmower engine and has to build an off-road vehicle around it. Their car has to be able to climb hills, maneuver in mud, water, and rocky terrain, and be fast.

My brother was the co-captain of his school's entry a quarter-century ago. Since his school hosted the event this year (and he could sack out at my place), he came and volunteered his services, plus it gave him a chance to see how much things have changed.

To me, they all look alike, which is to say they all look like the car he helped build (and I should know--he brought it back from school with him, and has dragged it around from house to house ever since. Yeah: a geek and a packrat. But hands off girls--he's taken!)

His take, however was different: "Mine was a Model T compared to these guys."

That's my bro. One of us got the looks, one of us got the brains.

So, I took the kids out on Saturday afternoon to see what this was all about. It was pretty interesting--mostly because there were so many people from different cultures, yet they all spoke the same language: fluid dynamics.

So here's a few shots of what we did on a Saturday afternoon.

Geek fans. The parking area was jammed when we got there, and they expected even larger crowds the next day.

One of three Mexican entries. I love the Aztec design paint job.

Representing Halifax, Buffalo, and Pittsburg, Kansas.

These three are from Korea. They spoke flawless English. Couldn't understand a word of what they said.

I got to peek underneath the Brazilian car. There was a tiny strip of hair between the rear axles.

It was hard to remember these are just kids doing this.

Some of the teams got some big air coming over this ridge. Some of the teams got a little too much air.

Lots of teams broke down. Axles gave, engines blew, and there were a few spectacular crashes. This team's from Dalhousie, in Nova Scotia. Their weekend ended on Saturday. A long way to come for such a disappointment.

I'm glad I went--mainly because it was the only time I saw my brother. He was out on the track at 6 am, and I had gigs in the evening, but it was cool to be able to have him over.

Back when we were in school, I didn't think that we would ever be close. Truth be told, we're not. But we have found common ground, understanding, and love and compassion for each other. And it no longer bothers me that he's such a geek. In retrospect, it never did.



Blogger terry said...

was the brazilian car nice and smooth everywhere else?

2:37 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

Looks like a blast! My boys would be all over it. Am I too big to drive one? How fast do they go?
Does this mean I'm a geek?

8:41 AM  
Blogger Heidi the Hick said...

the brazilian car made me snicker audibly...

so, you're the one with the looks, right? No wait, you're the one with the brains. Huh? Wha???

My kid's hotrodding a go cart this summer. I'll keep you posted!

10:05 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Terry: I have no idea what you're talking about.

Notso: Yeah, I'd love to take one for a spin, too. My kids were a bit disappointed when they found out they couldn't drive one.

You're not too big, but I think you need to belong to an SAE-accredited school in order to enroll. If you want to go and get an engineering degree, have at it.

Heidi: Why would the brazilian car make you snicker?

Does that response answer your question about looks v. brains? And who said they were equally divided?

We gotta get our kids together.


10:18 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Loving the geeks.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:28 AM  
Blogger fatrobot said...

long live robie st high
(aka st mary's)

your doubting my existence is what makes tornados

9:29 AM  
Blogger Nölff said...

OMG I used to have one of those when I lived on my parents cattle farm. I got poops all over me. It was hella fun though.

11:01 AM  

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