MayDay Parade mainstays Southside Battletrain need a place to park their bad-ass vehicles

Members of South Side Battletrain ride the Ferris Wheel

Members of South Side Battletrain ride the Ferris Wheel Minneapolis Star Tribune

Do you have a driveway? Would you like to house a piece of art on wheels? Southside Battletrain, a collective of mechanics, welders, artists, and misc. radical people are looking for businesses or homeowners in south Minneapolis who have space available.

To find a home for their pieces, the crew has taken to Instagram, @southsidebattletrain:

The collective is looking to rehome Samuel P.Ely., a sunken ship on wheels; last year’s machine, dubbed the Hamster Wheel or Satan’s Playground, depending on who you ask; the Ferris wheel, which is exactly what it sounds like; and the Hamm’s Crusher, often referred to as Battletrain’s Mad Max car.

Which begs the question: When the Hamm’s Crusher and Satan’s Playground aren’t cruising along Bloomington at the MayDay Parade, where do they typically go? According to collective member/mechanic/Jiu-Jitsu coach Andrew Bendzick, the group relies on small businesses and volunteers who donate parking spots after the parade.

“The Hamm’s Crusher was parked at my sister’s condo for the last couple years, but she just bought a house in Richfield, so that spot is lost,” he says. “We’re currently parking a couple things in the backyard of Open Eye Theatre but they want to charge their situation over there, so that spot is not available either.” 

Ideally, Battletrain hopes to find something close to one of their hang-out spots, the Grease Pit (at 27th and Bloomington). The less these vehicles have to travel, the better, as not all of them fit under traffic lights.

“These things are hard to move, and they’re very large,” says Bendzick. 

They’re also attractive to kids, which is not ideal, as they’re not playground safe. So keeping them off any high-traffic routes is also crucial.

Normally, this time of year, the Battletrain crew is busy prepping their kinetic art vehicles for the MayDay Parade. In the wake of COVID-19, however, plans have changed drastically.

“Typically this time of year we’re at 31st and Portland getting things ready and working on whatever new vehicle we have,” he says. “This year has been quite the challenge for all of us, socially and creatively... But like everyone else we’re adjusting and trying to figure it out and looking forward to May Day 2021.”

As for 2020 parking plans, Bendzick says that they have a few leads, and are hopeful that something will pan out. In the meantime, he says that Battletrain folks have appreciated the positive reactions they have received on their Instagram page, and they hope that their postings have brightened people’s day.

“I think a lot of people know about Battletrain,” he says. “Most people think it’s pretty cool, and it’s a part of south Minneapolis. And even though we only really assemble the whole thing on MayDay, we’re a really tight group of people.” 

In the meantime, Battletrain members are keeping in touch via Zoom, and planning for 2021.

“When we’re in normal times, the core group sees each other pretty regularly,” says Bendzick. “They’re all really great people -- crust punks around the edges -- who are super into doing things in a collective way, producing art. I love the community.”