Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Planning to build and bring a mutant vehicle? Talk about your plans and recruit crew members here.

Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby JayBobBoy » Fri May 02, 2014 11:19 pm

So I've been tapped to be the Art Car leader/driver for the camp this year, and I'm so ready for it.

I'm an experienced burner and I know about all the responsibility stuff, I'll be sober and attentive, I'm familiar with the rules, and fully competent to drive, no worries there. My rig is reliable and I have a good maintenance crew to keep us up and running during the event.

Here's my deal. I've been a bike rider and a walker all of my previous years and I've only been a passenger on the art car on a handful of occasions. What are the pitfalls of being in charge of the car? What haven't I thought of? Is there any real reason I shouldn't so this?

I can't really think of one...

Thanks!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Jackass » Fri May 02, 2014 11:27 pm

For starters you'll need a competent "security" crew, maybe night vision too. The crazies will flock to you like moths to a flame. They'll run full speed into the side of your rig, then hang on for dear life to get a ride. NEVER underestimate the "crazies".
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby some seeing eye » Sat May 03, 2014 9:45 am

Join the public mv mailing lists found on burningman.com. There are many many mv operators in the Bay Area you can meet. Depends a lot on the size of the vehicle, rider embark/disembark setup and visibility to passenger actions by driver. Better to have a cabin crew responsible for the passengers.

And what Jackass said. it takes only one crazy to be seriously injured or worse by your vehicle to ruin your day.

But it can be a lot of fun to captain a mv, and it could be a fun journaling or documentary project!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby theCryptofishist » Sat May 03, 2014 10:15 am

Even handicapped vehicles with no mutation get people on skates or skate boards holding on. And they aren't all that smart about what risks they are putting you through...
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Drawingablank » Sat May 03, 2014 5:28 pm

Talking to an MV owner / driver with lots of experience in 2012 he said he never boards without his cattle prod as it can deter the most assholeish person from harassing him or his crew without actual physical violence.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby EspressoDude » Sat May 03, 2014 5:53 pm

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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby JayBobBoy » Sat May 03, 2014 6:32 pm

Thanks for the input. It is a great little car that can hold 8 to 10 people. The passenger compartment is enclosed so the driver can control access over who boards and exits and when.

Security measures for the diver are an excellent idea. Will be added to the list....Thank you!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Galaxo Magic » Fri May 09, 2014 4:06 pm

You need to have clear vision out the right side for right-ish turns, if not, you need a co-pilot.
When starting, let off the brake, don't hit the accelerator. When stopping ease on the brake as gently as possible.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri May 09, 2014 5:17 pm

That's about the size of my MV; I limit the count to 12 for weight reasons more than space reasons, which becomes an issue in itself because people see room and think they should be able to climb on.
Defense has been an issue a couple times over the years. My vessel has weathered hijacking attempts, drunken damage-causing idiots, and even tasering-the-driver-for-fun assholes. Officially on the record, my vessel is completely unarmed. And that's all I have to say about that…

I'm not a huge boozer but sometimes it kinda' sucks that as the driver I can't have any beer, no margaritas, no nuthin'.

In years past, the single biggest downside to MV driving was people's expectation of taxi service. There was an endless stream of "Oh can we please stop by xxx" and even a lot of fake "injured" people wanting a ride to specific places. I will transport any injured burner to the med tent at any time, but if that ain't your destination then, uh… ?? It got so bad that I couldn't get home when I wanted to.
I think most vet MV drivers will tell you, other than at your discretion, burners who choose to ride choose to go wherever the vehicle goes. Sure, drive 'em home or to the next party if you feel like it, but they need to understand the rule.

Very drunk or otherwise very impaired passengers are nothing but trouble. Feelin' good is OK, but really messed up means "keep walking".

Bikers like to hang onto the sides and be pulled along. I'd be OK with that if I weren't likely to make a turn and run them over.

OH!! Absolutely outfit your rig with kill switches! Make it very, very difficult for anyone to joyride your MV.

The cops, the real ones, are out there. All the normal-world rules about alcohol and motor vehicles DO APPLY in Black Rock City. The days of "Bar Cars" have been over for years. Be careful about where the alcohol is in relation to the driver, you can get in a LOT of trouble out there.

It's a bit of responsibility, but overall it's a lot of fun to drive a Mutant Vehicle on the playa!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Hope-a-Lope » Sun May 11, 2014 6:09 pm

This may not be an issue for an 8-10 person car, but depending on mutation, you may want people who can guide you down narrower streets if need be. Our camp's car had wide flower petals that would clip street signs, hit people in the head, etc. if people didn't hop off to assist, so we'd have people walk along and guide the petals (or push them inward) to keep it safe for all.

Thanks for being a driver (even though I doubt I'll get to ride your MV)! One of my favorite nights was our art car's tour of the esplanade and deep playa, when we stopped off at different camps and art pieces, complete with an MC on the mic and time frames announced. You'll give a lot of people a great time!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby jitneybead » Mon May 12, 2014 1:03 pm

I'll spare you the details, but the bottom line is that a group of Oklahomans with several Burns under their belts have had to cancel plans to bring their own MV to the Playa this year. It would have been our first and we're disappointed.

I'm hoping our loss is your MV's gain. We (my partner The Beader) and I would like to extend our offer to join/contribute to the development/operation of your MV project.

We're responsible-ish adults in our 40s that will work hard and bring no drama. I'm positive and hard working with engineering/mechanical experience and safety will be priority. She's the art director-type that has the sparkle and the personality that knows no stranger and has no enemy. We know art car etiquette and appreciate the work that goes into bring it to the playa.

We can help in a lot of ways depending on your situation - we'll be driving from Oklahoma and can haul some support gear perhaps. We could help with setup, driving shifts, refueling, DJ support or music selection, safety, snacks...
What do you need? What can we do for you?

Respond to thread or send a PM.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Galaxo Magic » Mon May 19, 2014 2:12 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:That's about the size of my MV; I limit the count to 12 for weight reasons more than space reasons, which becomes an issue in itself because people see room and think they should be able to climb on. . . .

It's a bit of responsibility, but overall it's a lot of fun to drive a Mutant Vehicle on the playa!

Great post there Captain. On the elephant we knew we'd be maxed out at around 16 folks. So, we put in a playa-tech bench that ate up space so that when 16 people were on top, it looked full.

We are not a Taxi service. Very impaired people should not be allowed on. On the elephant you could topple off and fall 8 feet to the playa.

We always go out with a 'Walker'. I love that job. As a Walker, you can ride or walk along with the vehicle, you assist people on and off, you help the driver in traffic, corners or blind spots, but mostly it is a highly social job. You talk with most of the folks that end up riding!

It IS work but it IS rewarding~
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby JayBobBoy » Fri May 30, 2014 3:11 pm

Thank you all for your excellent replies. Jitney, thanks for the offer. I'll keep you in mind if I need a crew to help out.

I'll have more details in the coming weeks as we knock off the cobwebs and get into the hard work!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Crisco Disco » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:38 pm

An 8 to 12 rider MV should pose little worry if sight lines are not impeded. Awake and alert is the key. I know for a fact that one's adrenaline starts the moment you let off the break--you become exponentially more responsible with each foot traveled, for it often feels like you've just become a Mac Truck driver with a 53 footer in the middle of a city center after a Super Bowl win. Steer around crowds, not try and maneuver through them. Speed limit is snails pace, but here's nothing better than half that and if your lucky enough to have your engine do idle speed like 3MPH, it's like cruise control for open spaces--priceless!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Major Krash » Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:32 pm

also, people WILL try to start/hot-wire your mutant vehicle if they can gain access to it when it is unattended...be sure to park it when you are done in an area of your camp that is at least under observation, or nearby so you might hear when people are messing with it. When you park on the Playa and leave it unattended, try to have a secret kill-switch or other trick so it cannot easily be started.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby JayBobBoy » Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:41 pm

Thanks Krash and Crisco, excellent advice. I'll look into the hidden kill switch, sounds like an easy upgrade.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Galaxo Magic » Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:10 am

JayBobBoy, driving is a blast. People come up and want to say hi, maybe even gift you for bringing the MV.
The Kill Switch is a great idea. We never had an issue with the elephant because it was really difficult to get inside the van to drive, however, this year, with the Bi-Polar Express train, the cab will be open, so we will have a Kill Switch.
Also, when you stop to check out art and come back to your MV, there will probably be folks sitting in it. If you already have a full load folks will usually be fine with getting off but sometimes they feel entitled to ride. You can walk as fast as you drive so some folks could walk a bit. One time we asked where the folks wanted to go, they said 10 o'clock, so we turned and drove the opposite direction… unfortunately, they did not care. haha

Let us see pictures so we can meet up on the playa!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby JayBobBoy » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:33 am

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all your tips on this thread. Everything is a go for the Fish Car this year! We should be at the party on Friday the 22nd at some point!

Image

Come and say hi!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Jackass » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:20 am

Nice car, I'll keep an eye out for it. You may want to put some sort of door or gate on that side opening, or just have someone sit on the inside with a cattle prod. Once your vehicle is in motion, that side opening will become a goal to obtain by those seeking to ride. We have a similar opening on my camp's MV, with a half gate. They WILL try to jump in or hurdle over it while you are under way, smashing into whoever is on the inside. Put your strongest "bouncer" near that door, for the shit will get crazy!

This year we're short two people from last year for our MV. Guess what that means....Everybody has to be a bit more fierce when dealing with the knuckleheads due to being shorthanded

Another idea for that opening would be, two or three strong strobe lights around the opening aimed specifically to blind pirates trying to board. They get too close, someone hits the button and temporarily blinds them while your vehicle continues along. It's similar to some sort of high seas, pirate evasion techniques....could use water canons too.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby JayBobBoy » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:10 pm

The side doors zip up and closes without any openings. The driver has to drop the bottom lip of the mouth, which creates a step used to enter the vehicle. It's a nice arrangement that allows us to control access really easily. Come and get swallowed by the fish!

I thought about the same thing with the bright lights and installed a 12v outlet for a massively powerful handheld light that the driver or assistant can use to blind the oncoming hordes of hippies!

Thanks for the input!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:28 pm

My best playa-tested technique for ridding the vessel of unwanted passengers is simply to stop. They get bored and depart voluntarily.
Sometimes you just wanna sit and look at an art piece or watch a performance. People will come up right away - "Hey, where are you going?!" as they climb on. "Right here! We just got here!!"
You do have to keep an eye on it when parked out on the playa, people will sometimes climb in and make themselves at home. There isn't any DMV rule that says an M/Vs interior is public space while parked! That's about the same as climbing right into someone's tent. That couch inside isn't anyone else's private little love nest and my cooler is not a public beverage dispenser.
Another thing to watch for is people will find an M/V a convenient playa garbage can. Watch for people lingering around with cups in their hand and such. It's one thing to ASK if you can leave a piece of garbage, it's totally another thing to just dump shit on me. I get a little unhappy when people just dump shit on me.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby tahiti_treat » Mon Sep 08, 2014 8:46 am

We were in line right behind you during ingress! Although I never saw you driving around during the burn, I really enjoyed staring into that fish's gaping maw while waiting. Hope everything went well for you!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby JayBobBoy » Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:34 pm

Thanks! The Fish car ran great up until Friday afternoon when the carburetor started getting clogged with all the dust and whatnot. But before that, we had it working for seven straight days and covered a lot of ground!

To be honest, I was pretty much ready to walk and bike by Friday anyway. As you can imagine, it became more and more challenging to drive around as the weekend approached. Taking the slow stroll through the dust out to see the Man Burn was one of the highlights of my week.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby D_Man » Tue Sep 09, 2014 4:36 pm

Loved your fish. Thank you for bringing that out this year. I was with the camp across from where the carb got clogged and it was great to see you up and running again (yay my camp member).
I really hope to see you again next year.
I'm seriously considering making a MV and was strolling around the forum and this thread has been a huge help. Thank you ALL for your tips and advise.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby maladroit » Tue Sep 09, 2014 4:41 pm

Pretty sure I rode in that fish car in 2012! I saw it on Craigslist shortly after. I think it was based on an old airport luggage hauler? The engine was definitely finicky even back then. Nice features: the front entry, and the hidden trapdoor in the passenger area floor with a cooler full of ice cold beer!
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Sham » Tue Sep 09, 2014 4:53 pm

I had my art car parked at our camp and found two people sitting on top figuring that if they were there first, then it was their spot for the night.

My biggest asshat moment this year was from a couple that asked to ride up top, and once I got underway, the guy laid face down on the windshield and started banging on the glass. Needless to say, I booted them off immediately. The only people I had a problem with all week.

I was also very surprised at the number of foolish (stupid) people who simply came up around the art car and rode their bikes right in the path of the moving vehicle. I am very surprised that there were not any of these idiots hurt during the event. :roll:
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby some seeing eye » Tue Sep 09, 2014 5:32 pm

Sham, I found that as a walker for our MV. Bikes would ride directly toward the vehicle and swerve. But sometimes they would crash or skid and I had to pull them away from being crushed by the the wheels. Walkers are one of the most intense on-playa responsibilities.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby chuckularone » Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:43 pm

I was on an MV on Tuesday night. One of the vehicle guides stopped a girl from riding in front of the car less than two feet ahead of it. She said, "You can't ride in front of the car" The girl on the bike replied, "But, I want too!" One of the other vehicle guides (there were three!) held her bike while the MV moved on.

Did she want to die?
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:26 pm

I dunno, but she may have made stupid platitudes about this year's fatality having gone out doing what she loved.
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Re: Tips for Art Car Drivers/Leaders...

Postby Lonesomebri » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:55 pm

Tips for Art Car Drivers? Not yet, but with the popularity of Plug and Plays, I am sure that in the future a nice tip presented up front is the only way you'll get on an art car.

As an aside, I've never gotten a ride on an art car because I always figured that the people running them are too elitist to let me on, nothing to do with me, and then the newbs in my camp run up to the first passing art vehicle and are let on, given a tour of the playa, dropped off.....elitist. Nothing to do with me......
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