The race for mayor went into high drive yesterday as Washington's three major Democratic contenders drove through the streets in horn-honking motorcades that blared out political slogans through cartop electronic megaphones.

Beginning under cloudy late morning skies that brightened into a sunny day by mid-afternoon. Mayor Walter E. Washington had two 50-car motor cades put together with heavy support from the Greater Washington Central Labor Council.

Dressed nattily in black pants, a checkered blue and white jacket, light blue skirt and blue striped tie, the mayor waved to onlookers as his 3-hour motorcade wound through the streets of far Northeast and ended in streets of far Northeast and ended in Fort Davis Park, a neighborhood with a heavy votes turnout.

City Councilman Marion Barry, casually attired in white cotton clacks. T-shirt with "Marion Barry for Mayor" in blue letters across the chest and white bush jacket, rode on the rear bumper of a smaller 20-car motorcade meandered through the curving tree-lined streets of Shepherd Park in upper Northwest Washington.

Men and women, many still in bathrobes at the 11 a.m., start of Barry's two-hour motorcade, stepped out onto their manicured fron lawns and waved or stood mute as, the cars passed. Barry, holding onto the car's rooftop luggage rack, waved and greeted them with a battery operated megaphone.

Sterling Tucker, dressed leisurely in a blue sports shirt and black slacks, rode standing up in the back of a blue pickup truck in a seven-car motorcade that drove through Georgetown, the Kenilworth Park area of Northeast and Anacostia.

Surrounded by young women, Tucker waved to passersby as a recording repeated his campaign slogan, "Tucker, Mayor, Now. Come see the man you can elect the next mayor."

The three candidates emphasized different themes.

"This is a working peoples' motorcade," the mayor's lead megaphone car blared as it streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Councilman Douglas Moore (D-At Large), running for the council chairman's seat, and businesswoman Patricia Rice Press, a contender against incumbent Councilman Nadine Winter (D) in the Ward Six race, were also included in the mayor's motorcade.

At a brief campaign stop in the 200 block of 34th Street SE, the mayor told a group of 20 middle-aged and elderly persons that they represented the type of stability he has brought to the city.

"I've been trying to maintain our neighborhoods that are stable, like this one," Washington said. "I've been working at it for 10 years."

Barry, on the other hand, shouted to the residents of Shepherd Park, "We need a chance, hope you're going to vote for me now."

At a campaign stop near the Blair garden apartments in the 300 block of Juniper street. Barry danced stiffly in the street with one of his hip-swinging organizers. Lillian Sedgwck, to the music of LaMont Hampton and Company band. "You need a leader who's going to lead for a change," he told a group of 100 odd people who were attracted by the band's noise. His supporters cheered.