Steve Moore Ron Price Todd Cronin Dan Scanlon Dan Root Beth Albright Marty Fuller
In the center of the rectangle that is the state of Ohio, just above the city of Columbus, in the town of Powell, an animation studio called Character Builders sat at the end of a cul-de-sac where, on a very hot, humid afternoon in June of 1999, a tricycle race took place. The race was called "The Herb Cup" after Herb, the studio's fictitious mascot.
It was sometime in April, during the weekly production meeting, that I proposed such a race for the studio. The artists laughed, until they realized I was serious. Then they looked to each other with nervous grins, like I'd proposed we all go skinny dipping. Someone said "Let's do it!" and the others dove in.
We hashed out specifics. Teams of two would create tricycles and costumes of their own design. We defined a tricycle as having three wheels, two of which shared an axle. Single gear, no derailleurs. Riders must ride on all three wheels. The first team to complete twenty laps would be the winner. Espionage and dirty tricks, while frowned upon, were greatly encouraged. We would call this event "The Herb Cup", after the studio's fictitious mascot, Herb. A date was set for June.
We enlisted the parents of studio co-founder Jim Kammerud to officiate as King and Queen of the Cup. Their role would be to oversee the race, dropping the white and checkered flags. The p.a.'s were tasked to create their crowns using cardboard, pasta, glue, and gold spray paint in the spirit of a first grade art project.. I made the Herb Cup itself, out of Super Sculpey.
Editor Ron Price recalls the weeks leading up to the race:
Animator Todd Cronin, on the creation of his trike:
Once I got her home and cleaned up, I began to assess what modifications would need to be done to Little Angel. She was raw with potential, and I would see her to it - but for selfish reasons. In return for my investment, she would help me - help me cross the finish line ahead of others and win the coveted Herb Cup.
There would need to be a major adjustment to her frame to accommodate the two-wheel axel and accompanying tires I had lifted from our baby jogger. These were my ace in the hole. The others would be on tricycles made for a child, with tiny wheels, where as I would be on a bike with a larger sprocket and larger wheel radius. The shortsighted fools had no idea what lay in store....muh ha ha ( evil laugh )!
Looking for a sprocket was another matter. After going to what seemed every bike shop in the Columbus metro area, I had to make due with the one Little Angel had. No matter, it would work - I would just have to pedal faster.
Ed the Welder tried to explain: what I was asking for most likely wouldn't work. The frame was not made of strong enough metal for the modifications and would most likely fracture at the weld site at some point, as would the new seat post I was having welded to the frame.
Physics be damned! A few hours later, my design became reality. I just needed it to hold long enough... the Herb Cup was mine.
Then night before the race proved to be hectic. The parts to Little Angel didn't quite fit together as I'd hoped. After a long and arduous night, I took Little Angel for her first test run, just a few hours before the race. She held and pressed forward as I turned the pedals - not as smooth as I'd have liked, but she was mobile, and mobile was all that mattered.
Finally the race was upon us. I took Little Angel from the back of my Blazer, still needing a few slight adjustments. The other racers were taking their tricycles around the oval on test runs before the start, but not Little Angel. I was saving her for an explosive start.
When the time came, I rolled her up to the line, ready to take off like bottled lightning. When the white flag came, I thrust down on the pedal. Little Angel, raw with kinetic energy, surged forward one tire rotation and snapped apart - in exactly the two places - as Ed the Welder predicted they would. And like that, Little Angel was no more.
The day before the race, many teams (including mine) still had no trike. We hit the thrift shops, buying up child-size bicycles. We hit the hardware store for stray parts and duct tape, and the party store for decorations. After work, we turned the parking lot into a mini chop shop. Being June, the sun set at nine o'clock, but we went on well after dark, well after the time when it ceased to be a fun project.
Below: Charlie Warren attempting reassembly.
Dan Root, con't:
Jim stared at the wooden spool that was five feet across with two thick wooden "wheels" nearly six feet in diameter. Then he squinted, as if in pain, and quietly asked, "Dan, can you even move that thing with your legs?"
I was winded and still struggling to get the spool moving before I realized Jim had wandered back to the studio to get his work done.
We ended up just buying an off-the-shelf tricycle and fitted it with a blow up rubber raft modeled to look like a Star Wars Landspeeder -- you know, so we'd be more aerodynamic and stuff.
Ron Price on the trikes:
The other tricycle "design" was a blatant affront to the rules of the Herb Cup--teams just went out and bought a kid's tricycle. Safe, yes. Dependable, yes; but entirely lacking in speed or even any real drivability by a full-sized adult.
I was half of "The Rolling Monkeys". My partner was Steve Moore. Our trike sported monkey fur and a fuzzy tail. It was my original intention to race in a full gorilla suit, but I allowed myself to be talked out of it when temperatures ran into the eighties. Steve wore a gas station attendant's uniform and a set of Billy-Bob teeth.
Everyone sported some sort of get-up - tights and capes being predominant. Dan Scanlon and Brian Fee stole the show as "Apricot and Peach", never uttering a word throughout the entire race but performing a choreographed dance routine, all while wearing black and gold lamé Mexican wrestlers' outfits.
Storyboard artist Dan Scanlon:
Actually we just went down to Big Bear, bought a kids big wheel, spray painted it gold, then bought opaque black ladies nylons and some creepy masks. We were going for a disturbing, mysterious, harlequin look. Our names where Apricot and Peach.
Art director Beth Albright, on the grand entrance of "Apricot and Peach":
Teams got into costumes, and rolled out onto the starting line. For the record, the eight teams consisted of:
The Pamplemousse Bastards - Jim Kammerud and Dan Root
Rolling Monkeys - Ron Price and Steve Moore
Taunting Muffins - Nicole Ankowski and Beth Albright
Apricot and Peach - Dan Scanlon and Brian Fee
Rahal - Fuller - Marty Fuller and his stepson, Kevin
And one unofficial entry: eight year-old Jessie Kammerud and his friend Parker.
©.2009 Moore Studios, Inc.