Bordick hit the nail on the head: it was about coming together as a team in a way that just isn't possible in most other campus activities. In 97 Spirit had as much drama as a Univision telenovela, and as chair I was the leading man (I was coming back to school 8 months after my little sister died, my ex-girlfriend was my A team driver and vice-chair, and a large portion of the team didn't know me just because I hadn't been in school the year before-and that was just my stuff). But we came together, fought hard as a team, and did something pretty cool. Conveying what that is like to someone is hard. Convincing them that it's worth coming out at 4am to get that is even harder (my youngest cousin is at CMU now, and I don't think he's even pushing despite doin decathlon for the track team). and I don't have any good ideas except to get freshmen out for races so they can at least get a chance at three years of participation.
As for whether or not SDC should lend a hand? Well, in 93,94,95 they weren't all that, but they took a big leap with their buggies. Could there be any correlation between that jump and when this Spirit mechanic moved into Henderson? Well, CF and vacuum baggin didn't just come from nowhere (after my scientific rationale for CF over Kevlar wasn't heeded I had to step to "fine, build another Escargot, but we've won 6 out of 7, and we use CF"-stubborn sumbitches they were).
In 97 I also had some long conversations with Sig Ep or Kap Sig or somebody (cloudy memory) also explaining some basic changes to their design (fiberglass bad, CF good) that they could easily implement.
I recognized that Buggy failing wasn't goin to help Spirit roll. If the number of orgs goes down by too many more, SDC won't have anything to spend that fat wad of cash on. New teams aren't likely to repeat Spirit's rise just because there is so much more information readily available, but having more teams compete for 2nd day makes it a better sport for everyone, and helps the sport survive.
I also would be up for being a reference/mentor. While following directions would suck, it certainly would be good to have someone as a sounding board. Most of tech info would help someone only build a decent buggy, but I certainly can help with organizational issues and how not to manage drivers.