About a minute and a half after last week's Reader hit the streets, the Alice offices were blitzed with bumper car e-mails, including confirmations of sightings:
I followed one down Gopher Canyon. It was going with the flow, about 50 mph. I have also seen them [at] Cruisin' Grand in Escondido. -- Lee
They're street legal. They sometimes come out as a club to Cruisin' Grand in Escondido, Friday nights [annually, April through September]. As many as eight to ten of them.
Standing on the corner of 5th and Broadway I saw two of [them] about two weeks ago. -- Douglas
...Cruise nights up in Encinitas... -- Mr. Shanks
...Rancho Santa Fe Road and Olivenhain Road, going toward Encinitas...
-- Chuck Cannova, Carlsbad
...Going north on Hwy. 101 in Leucadia; most didn't have the vertical pole...
-- S. Lynd, Leucadia
I briefly talked to one of the dudes riding one...and it had a Kawasaki 750 motorcycle engine in it. -- Bruce
Lee sent photos taken at Cruisin' Grand. Two modified bumper cars mounted on what looked like a quad chassis, with windshields, headlights, and California plates. One has a nice yellow-and-red flame pattern. The other has a groovy, chrome-y retro grill.
Mr. Shanks suggests they're licensed for the road as what the DMV calls specially constructed vehicles, which includes kit cars. The bumper cars would require considerable rebuilding to meet safety and smog regs. Steve Waldron, owner of Driving Styles Apparel in Escondido, concept-car builders and makers of driving and racing duds, is the founder of the popular Cruisin' Grand car-show event. He says the bumper cars were modified by a car nut here in the county. We're on his trail. So just idle there at the curb and we'll get back with you shortly.