I think there's diminishing returns from freeroll practice - to a point there's a clear improvement in safety, past that a clear improvement in driving quality, but beyond that the top drivers are getting little out of each additional day. The top teams are clever enough to adapt to reduced practice days by getting the more out of each day they do get, so will end up where they are now. That may take more preparation than now, but that's effort that happens at a more civilized time than 7am. There's a monetary cost to every practice (paid by sweepstakes) and a time cost in chores (paid by every team) and a time cost (paid by every team that practices). The time cost of freerolls takes away time that could be used building/improving a buggy or figuring out wheels, and the money freed up from the sweepstakes budget to support Greek & new teams, or to hire flaggers to man the barricades, so that all teams can have all their people practice rather than lose some to standing around freezing.Are you suggesting we reduce the number of freeroll practices to even the playing field? That would be, in theory, lowering the level of the top competition down closer to the bottom feeders. Teams which are too small and miss a day shouldn't be pandered to, they should be encouraged to get more members involved so they don't miss days.
In my time, it was unthinkable to skip spring break, but that's now become standard. The top drivers looked about the same 2 weeks before the race as they did during this year's race. But pushers may be a different story, though, since push practice is not a complete replacement. Fewer practices puts more pressure on teams to make sure their buggy doesn't malfunction, but also gives them more time to get it right before it hits the course. Of course procrastinators will still be able to screw themselves.
Closing Tech and/or Frew for a couple of midday push practices a semester is an interesting idea - CMU would be the only thing affected by such a closure. I'd gladly trade a weekend of freeroll permits to have a uphill-only race during Homecoming.
Do you know what's behind DTD's refusal? The impossibility of competing? Too much of a time & money pit for the reward?DTD is moderately large (not SigEp or PhiDelt large though), however they've refused to participate in Buggy since Delta Force in 2011-2012. Maybe sometime soon there will be enough interest among the members though, especially since they've moved onto the Greek Quad.
Sigma Chi is also moving onto the Greek Quad next year (replacing KapSig), so maybe there's hope there too.
IIRC KapSig built a pretty decent buggy, then vanished, so that's sad. Pusher restrictions absolutely have to go for it to make any sense for a sorority. 80 women and their friends is a huge bump in the audience, even if there's only a handful of buggy-serious sisters.
In the present environment, there's zero chance of a new buggy independent, and the university is even more stacked against "5 friends who want to compete from scratch." So our only hope for expansion is for more Greeks to be seduced by the siren song of buggy. It's an easy sell when every other house is doing it, but now that buggy is a thing most Greeks don't do, what do we have to offer them? The issues are noted year after year, but I think it is now time to collectively do something about them. Maybe PiKA & SigEp just had off years, just like SDC did last year, and will be back in force next year but I'm afraid of where this trend leads.
I'd hoped that when GoDaddy signed on as a sponsor, they'd send Danica Patrick (who is driver-sized).