I have decided to post my opinions in full to encourage respectful discourse. Please do not abuse this opportunity, or take it out of context. Here is everything you wanted to know:
Put yourself in the position of head judge and chairman. Here you are expecting a great day of racing, even with the possibility of a new record. Suddenly, out of the blue the fire marshal comes to you and says there was a dangerous situation with a propane tank near the trucks. He explains to you that propane is heavy, and will stay near the ground and flow, "seeking out" an ignition source should there be a leak. You look at the rules, and they clearly state that the entire organization in possession of the tank must be DQ'd. You look at each other, and say "Oh f@$%, is there anything else we can do? I really don't want to do this." The answer is no. The fire marshal, appointed to the position of assessing fire safety hazards, identified a fire safety hazard and explained to you the severity of it. Your only option now is to enforce those rules. So you do a death walk, dreading every step down towards the team you are going to DQ, a team that is not only expected to win, but also has a great chance at beating their own team record. You reach them, and ask to speak with their chairman and head mechanic. Every second feels like an hour. They come out, and you, the sweepstakes chairman, advisor, and fire marshal explain how the fire marshal saw the propane tank, and that their team will be DQ'd. They attempt to defend themselves because the tank wasn't in the truck. The fire marshal then explains exactly what they told you before- how propane lays low and seeks out an ignition source. One of the team's execs comes to the realization that this is really going to happen and breaks out in tears. How do you feel about disqualifying them? Do you think Sweepstakes wanted to do it?
Honestly, many loopholes were tried. Letting them roll DQ'd, exercising the advisor's ability to arbitrarily change any rule, having the team filing a rerun form and trying to approve it. It was all tried, and it didn't work. There was an appeals process, it was followed and the appeal was denied. The university staff felt a reversal would send the wrong message. The fact is that the rules are clear. When the fire marshal identifies and is adamant about a fire safety violation, there is nothing you can do but enforce them.
People keep arguing over the definition of 'near'. It is very simple. Don't have any flammable liquids more than 2 oz of lube and whatever runs the truck, and then you don't care what the definition of near is. If you've got none, there is no gray area.
I have to say that all of SDC behaved more than admirably in the time after their DQ given the difficult situation they were in. I can't thank them enough for their display of respect and sportsmanship.
The SDC Men's C team decision was made as follows: SDC was slightly ahead of PiKA at the top of hill 2. They were each clearly in their separate lanes at this time, and neither driver could see the other. Due to the right hand turn and/or the shove at the top of hill 2, PiKA pulled slightly ahead of SDC. Shortly after they made incidental contact with PiKA slightly ahead of SDC. This was not cause for disqualification, as neither driver could have been aware of the other's exact position until this contact was made. However, once the contact was made, the SDC C driver was immediately aware of the PiKA driver ahead of her due to both the impact and the fairing in front of her windshield. She attempted to turn left to put some distance between her and the other buggy, but instead brushed the curb. At this point she was trapped in this position and her only option was to brake and take a reroll. Instead, she continued to drive forward faster than the PiKA buggy from behind. This qualifies as an attempted pass, causing her to bear the primary responsibility of ensuring the pass is completed without contact. Almost immediately afterward she collided again with the PiKA buggy, resulting in disqualification.
Additional clarifications: She did not bounce off the curb as some have proposed. Significant contact of the rear left wheel with the curb would cause the buggy to turn left into the curb, in the exact same manner that the spirit buggy did between the transition and chute flags. An additional factor in this decision was the driver meeting, where drivers were explicitly told that the following driver (as opposed to the leading driver) must brake in this type of situation to avoid a collision.
The rank rule wasn't enforced in 2007 or 2008. That precedent was followed.
Upon video review, the SigNu fairing did not significantly interfere with PiKA's time in that heat.
As for next year, I expect the rules to be changed to employ the remediation that Beta received last year or something similar. It was effective, and it is better for both safety and participation in the sport than a 15 month DQ could ever be. Beta had one of the shortest lists of rules violated both on and off the course this year, and that speaks well of both Beta and the action taken by Sweepstakes.
The relevant fire safety rules, in full from page 72:
Buggy Preparation Areas
In order to reduce the possibility of accidents or injuries in the areas in which the buggies are prepared for the races, these areas shall be randomly inspected both before and during the Sweepstakes races by fire marshals, the Safety Chairman, or anyone else designated by the Dean of Student Affairs or the Sweepstakes Advisor. Any organization found to have unsafe or dangerous conditions in their buggy preparation area before or during the Sweepstakes races by any of these safety inspectors shall be fined the amount of $100.00 AND shall have ALL of their buggies immediately disqualified from all of the men’s races, the women’s races, and the design competition for that school year. In addition, any organization found to have ANY combustible liquids and/or ANY source of open flame in or near their buggy preparation area before or during the Sweepstakes races shall not be permitted to participate in ANY activity related to the Sweepstakes Competition for a period of 15 months from the date on which the violation is discovered. The following safety requirements apply AS A MINIMUM, to all buggy preparation areas both during and immediately before all Sweepstakes races:
NO quantity of ANY combustible liquid is permitted in or near the buggy preparation areas. (The ONLY exceptions to this requirement shall be quantities of lubricating fluid not greater in volume than two fluid ounces used to lubricate wheel bearings and the working fluids contained in motor vehicles and needed for their proper operation.)
No source of open flame is permitted in or near the buggy preparation areas.
The relevant driver rules, in full from page 69:
If during a heat, one entry’s buggy (and pusher, if the buggy is being pushed at that time) tries to pass another entry’s buggy (and pusher),the passing buggy (and pusher) has the primary responsibility of ensuring that the pass is completed without contact or any other type of foul between the buggies (or pushers). If contact or some other type of foul occurs between the buggies (or pushers) during an attempted pass, the judges shall determine which buggy (or pusher), if any, is at fault.
If during a heat, two entries’ buggies (and pushers, if the buggies are being pushed at the time) are traveling beside each other and neither is clearly passing the other, both buggies (and pushers) have the responsibility of ensuring that no contact or other type of foul occurs between the buggies (and pushers). If contact or some other type of foul occurs between the buggies (or pushers), the judges shall determine which buggy (or pusher), if any, is at fault.
Sweepstakes Chairman 2009 | Head Judge 2010 | Fringe Mechanic 2006, 2007, 2008 | Fringe Pusher 2006, 2007