How to Build and Race a Losing Shopping Cart

One week each year, in August, before the college students return, and while all of the cops are up north at their summer cottages, it’s safe for the punks to return to Ann Arbor. It’s called Punk Week, and it culminates with a big clandestine shopping cart race through downtown. Not wanting to bum any young people out on their special night, I decided to keep my ancient self home this year. (I applied salve to my aching joints, and curled up under a shawl to watch episodes of Matlock.) I did, however, ask a few correspondents to document the race. What follows is a story by Ian Fulcher. Photos, with the exception of the top one, which was taking by Jessica French, are by Jen Scroggins.


Every year for over half a decade, my friend Patrick decorates and pilots a shopping cart in Ann Arbor Punk Week’s annual Shopping Cart Race. His intention: to lose. It’s long been the tradition of the races that the winner gets a cake fed to them by the loser. Patrick Elkins and his team of fashion outlaws have repeatedly (an collectively) been that loser. It’s not easily done… Let’s expose his process.

First things first. Wheels. This year’s cart was harvested from behind a K-Mart in a town that rhymes with Hipsilanti. Bending space and time, Elkins fit a large cart in my Ford Escort. The man is a wizard.

Next, you need vision. I can’t help you get vision, but I can help you get concentrated Salvia which might help, and is perfectly legal until the cops read this article. Elkins and Kat Scott put their heads together and came up with a shark. Here it is in embryo, courtesy of team visual documentarian Jen Scroggins:


Cardboard was rescued from the recycling pile at Williams and State. Someone gripped some spray paint. Flashlights borrowed for eyes. This is the dominion of the last-minute student and noise musician: What have we got? What can we do with it? Here’s some shamelessly placed image of yours truly:


This trash motif is vital for the last-place placement. There will be folks building for speed and or glamor, but the whole point is to make a cart that scrapes up to the finish line leaving a taste in onlookers’ mouths somewhere between PBR and suspect milk. Again, if you look like this…


…congrats, you’re a winner. Go read some other blog. However if this is you…


…your name is Patrick Elkins. Way to lose!


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  1. Posted August 20, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    The folks in gold, according to Jessica French, are Annamarie O’Brien and Stefan Krstovic.

    And doesn’t it look like Ian is plugging some kind of enormous, phallic appendage into a machine?

  2. stella
    Posted August 20, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    The real culmination to punk week happened today when the city of Ann Arbor condemned RAW house. Looks like they took off the doors and made the kids move all their stuff onto the lawn and also looks like they kept an officer parked in the closest corner of the Miller Manor parking lot the entire time to monitor. I don’t have any details. Also a punk house on S. Seventh was basically swat teamed and cleaned out in a day about a month ago as well.
    I wish or whatever it’s called would do investigative reporting on issues/hardly coincidences like this.

  3. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted August 20, 2009 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I though Pat just told space and time to get bent. I didn’t know he could actually bend them.

  4. Carl
    Posted August 21, 2009 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Why does he so love to lose? Is it that he has a fetish for feeding other people cake?

  5. Sara RB
    Posted August 21, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Is there any truth to the rumor that Patric Andrews can travel through space and time?

    How abut the rumor that all he eats is cheese?

  6. Posted August 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I have answers:

    Ian does indeed have phallic appendages and machines get sometimes involved. Dude’s weird like that.

    Stella’s right. 555, then Raw House. Next = ? A2 h8s its artist types hard. Or so it seems. Guerrilla documentary time?

    Andy: Pat bends and gets bent. As who among us does not?

    Carl: The feeding of cake to winners has been a messy and violent-ish act in years past. I believe team Elkins might’ve found it “fun.”

    Patric Andrews does not exist in the closed universe of this article. Therefore both he and his cheese are moot, pending further elaboration.

  7. JJ O
    Posted August 23, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Useless imitated individuality has become a high virtue.

    Here Ohs.

    A very 1.

  8. Bob
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 8:02 am | Permalink


    Are you the same guy who was here saying shit about Patrick Elkins a month or so ago?


One Trackback

  1. By The down side of shopping cart races on August 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    […] few days ago, I posted something here on the site about the clandestine shopping cart races that take place in Ann Arbor every August, at the end of Punk Week. Well, after posting the story, […]

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