Oddly quiet around here after a very successful and eventful Raceday...
My thoughts on how raceday went:
- Weather (rain) was spotty and hard to predict both days. Very happy that Sweepstakes was willing to hold on until the last second instead of prematurely cancelling
- No extended delays from buggy related safety incidents, longest delay resulted from a small boy falling off of his father's shoulders. Fortunately, word is that he is doing alright
- Only 1 spin!!!
- Other DQs included 3 drop test failures, not making it to the start line, and 5 second violation.
- No (or minimal maybe??) buggy to buggy contact in the freeroll or chute (or hills for that matter)
- A few buggies either braked to a complete stop in the freeroll or braked to slow down to avoid potential future contact in a passing situation, all were granted rerolls.
About the last point, it is getting to the point where if you have a fast buggy but slow front hills, instead of just having to suck it up and either try to pass or stay behind, you can basically brake and be rewarded a freeroll. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. On one hand, no attempted chute passes definitely reduces the chute carnage potential. On the other hand we are moving farther and farther away from the idea of racing within a heat and more towards simply time trials (which I know some alums are all for). Also this does reduce some of the incentive/reward for being able to get the buggy up and over the front hills. In the past people would say that being behind another buggy in the freeroll means that you have to either safely pass or suck it up and stay behind, now apparently you can just request a reroll. Also, one could sort of skirt around the rules (and the spirit of the rules) and brake if trailing in the freeroll if they just messed something else up and want a reroll (not enough time to prep wheels properly, hill 1 pusher slipped, etc.), so there is that too. Lastly, I do wonder if CIA A men's in 2015 would have won (and swept Raceday) now if instead of having to try and pass Spirit A, they could've simply braked and asked for a reroll.
My thoughts on the results and teams:
- SDC shattered their women's record from 2009, also inched the men's record a little closer to sub 2:02. Obviously a great raceday for them in almost all regards
- Pike with their best effort and Raceday since 2008. Their women's time was good enough to win in a few of the recent years. Their men's (prelim) time is the fastest non-SDC time since 2012 when Fringe put up a 2:07.13. Hopefully we can see them continue in this direction.
- SigEp recovered nicely from their disastrous Raceday last year to take two trophies and a return to sub 2:10 form. Their only real hitch was Barracuda failing drops.
- CIA seems to have plateaued (or slightly regressed) in the last two years. Their slower times almost definitely a result of generally slower pushers. It seems as though their freeroll speeds and rollouts can't quite match the top teams when the roads are in good condition (but their chute traction in the god awful 2015 was amazing)
- Spirit with their first sub 2:10 time in a long long time. Looks like they've figured out the mojo to get their freeroll speeds up, but not quite to retain energy through the turn.
- Fringe's times are about where they were last year, women's a decent chunk slower. A bit sad to see a team with so much potential not have the pusher talent to compete. Still two trophies for them though (not including design comp or other awards).
- The smaller teams (Apex and the smaller Greeks) not having particularly great racedays. Apex and PhiDelt snuck into the women's finals heats (which were expanded from top 8 teams to top 10 teams this year) with some help of the SDC B and SDC C timing SNAFU being deemed a reroll.
The SDC domination this year has started to make me wonder, much like it did in 2014 (>10 second gap from 1st to 2nd on men's on pretty terrible road conditions), if they are starting to hurt overall competitiveness of buggy. I know some of the orgs I am still in contact with do feel like SDC is currently dominating to such an extent that it doesn't even feel like they can possibly compete for 1st anymore. I am not sure we've seen anything quite like this in the past. SDC in 2008-2012 at least had Pike and Fringe as close competition, only winning 2 of 5 years (although I am sure the SDC alums will tell you to discount 2010 for fire safety DQ). Since 2013, other than 2015 which now seems like a case of SDC having an odd bad luck year or something, nobody has been anywhere close, >5 second winning margins on the men's side every single one of those years. Women's has been a little closer, but if they didn't have a pushbar DQ last year on a 2:26 time we'd be singing the same tune.
In an ideal world, teams would see how successful SDC is, and try their damnedest to catch up. However, buggy overall certainly does not seem as competitive as it has in the past, so instead of SDC inspiring others to push themselves, they could be discouraging others by just highlighting the chasm that currently separates them.
But hell, who knows, SigEp, Pike, and Spirit just put up sub 2:10 times. Pike just rolled a 2:32 on women's and 2:07 on men's, which are both among the fastest non-SDC times in recent years. So at least things might be trending up.
My thoughts (or rant) are over, what are yours?