100 Years of Buggy History – 1933-1935

Previous Articles: Intro & 1920; 1921-1923; 1924-1927; 1928-1932

This week, 100 Years of Buggy History dives into the early-mid 1930s. This period was dominated by Beta (and there’s plenty of Beta photos), but we’ve got incidents, DQs, and even sabotage! And did you know that Pitt had buggy races as well?

1933

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, May 12 @ 11:30am; Finals on Saturday, May 13 @ 1:30pm

Sweepstakes Committee: John C. Lightfoot (Chair)

Race Results: (1) Beta (2:48.5 – COURSE RECORD); (2) KapSig; (3) SigNu

Design Comp: (1) Theta Xi; (2) DTD

Weather: Possibly overcast Friday, Rain on Saturday; High of 75/75, Low of 58/64

1933 was all about Beta. Incidents, course records, and a challenge to Pitt. Plus, a rain delay pushed the Finals back.

  • Heyday Debut. The Friday of Spring Carnival of 1933 was dubbed “Heyday”, and the Sweepstakes Prelims was one of the main events.  Other events included a float parade, tennis matches, and a faculty vs. seniors mushball game.
  • Buggy Designs. The early 1920s buggy designs were crude – often, they resembled wooden crates on wheels, rain barrels, and ash cans, and were made out of things like beer kegs or mattress frames. By the late 1920s, they had improved their designs and now resembles race cars of the day. But the first big shift came in the early 1930s. 1930 saw aluminum used for the first time (per the 4/24/2006 Tartan). The first major design breakthrough, however, came with Bill Dilks’ (E’ 36) creation for Beta. The buggy was a 3-wheeler (as discussed last week), but beyond that, it was a wooden framed buggy (per the 4/19/1977 Tartan, though the 4/24/1963 Tartan and others suggest it may have been aluminum) cloaked in airplane silk. This helped to create a lightweight buggy that had more aerodynamic properties. See photos at the bottom of this post for Beta’s 1933 buggy. It is also theorized that this cloth covering of the vehicle is the origin of the term “Buggy”, as the cloth covering resembled the sun-hood of a baby buggy that was prevalent in Pittsburgh at the time.
  • Beta’s Buggy Badly Damaged.  On May 7, the Sunday before Raceday, Beta was out practicing and crashed their buggy.  The driver and pusher, Edward Rhodes and Thomas Ryder (A’33), were injured, with both receiving body bruises and Ryder receiving a head cut.  The buggy itself was badly damaged, as the frame was bent and the body, discussed above and made of airplane fabrics, was “torn beyond repair”.  According to the Tartan, the accident occurred “at the corner of Beechwood Boulevard near the College of Industries.”  However, Beechwood Boulevard doesn’t connect to the College of Industries (now known as Baker/Porter Hall).  The description of the incident suggests that the crash may have actually happened in the Chute, as it was described as occurring when the buggy “made a sharp turn while going at full speed.”, though it’s possible it occurred elsewhere in Pittsburgh, as back in the early days of Buggy teams often practiced in off-campus locations to protect secrecy (and because there were no formal practices where roads were closed).
  • Beta Races Anyway. It’s unclear whether the Beta buggy that crashed was the same buggy that it won with in 1932, or whether it was a new design. Certainly the “badly damaged” and “torn beyond repair” references in the 5/9/1933 Tartan suggest that it wouldn’t be able to race 5 days later, but it’s also possible that they made a new covering for the buggy and fixed the frame in that time. Whichever is the case, Beta was able to bring a buggy to the course in 1933. KapSig and DTD also had new buggies that would be making their appearance at Raceday.  In addition, one fraternity, from the “North” (it’s unclear which one, but fraternities north of campus included ATO, PhiKap, Phi Psi, and PiKA; based on the results we know of and the Pitt fraternities we know existed, our best guess is PhiKap), unfortunately had their buggy totaled when they lent it to a Pitt fraternity for Pitt’s buggy race. 
  • Heats and Prelim Results. Once again, Prelims in 1933 consisted of 3 Heats with 6 organizations per heat, and the top 2 from each heat moved on to the finals.  We don’t know all of the orgs that participated, but the results of each heat were:
    • Heat 1: (1) Beta (2:53.2), (2) DTD, (3) ATO – Beta and DTD advance
    • Heat 2: (1) Theta Xi (3:05.8), (2) SigNu, (3) PiKA – Theta Xi and SigNu advance
    • Heat 3: (1) KapSig (3:01.4), (2) Phi Kappa Psi, (3) Alpha Sig – KapSig and Phi Psi advance
  • Rain Delays Finals: Nearly 1 inch of rain fell in Pittsburgh on Saturday, and as a result, Finals (which were initially scheduled for 11am) were delayed until 1:30pm.  Beta’s 3-wheeled buggy, which the Tartan called a “frictionless wonder” and “the smoothest thing on wheels around these parts”, cruised to victory in a course record 2:45.8, defeating KapSig and SigNu.  Beta’s push team consisted of 3 football players and 2 basketball players: Bradley Edelblut (I’ 34), Hower, Goodrich, Anderson, and Driggin.
  • All-Pittsburgh Derby.  On Wednesday, May 17, following Beta’s victory on Raceday, Beta issued a challenge to the Pitt chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, who had won the buggy race that took place at Pitt during Pitt Week.  PhiGam agreed, provided that they could find 2 wheels to replace those that broke during Pitt’s race.  Because of how dangerous Pitt’s course was (see the below tangent), the fraternities agreed to compete on CMU’s course, but since Pitt’s course only required 4 pushers and adding a 5th would put Pitt at a disadvantage, the parties agreed to use 4 pushers.  In addition, track runners were eligible to participate, so Tom Coulter (E’33), a member of Beta and the captain of the Track team (and, as a side note, a player on the Chicago Blackhawks for 1 season), was eligible to push (the 3 other pushers would have been chosen from Biggin, Croissant, Hower, Edelblut, Goodridge, and Anderson).  This would have been the most exciting Buggy race in Pittsburgh history!  Unfortunately, 2 of PhiGam’s pushers were track runners and Pitt’s Varsity Track coach refused to let his team members participate in the race.  Therefore, the race was cancelled and we never got to crown an All-Pittsburgh Buggy Champion.
    • Off on a Tangent – Other Buggy Races. Did you know that CMU wasn’t the only school to have Buggy races in the Pittsburgh area? Both Pitt and Washington & Jefferson hosted buggy races in the early years. We know almost nothing about W&J’s, other than a refernece in a 4/21/1925 article suggesting that Pitt, CMU, and W&J compete in an intercollegiate race. We know more about Pitt’s races, which continued for quite a while during Pitt Week (I don’t have exactly when it ended, but likely around WWII). And Pitt’s race was DANGEROUS. We don’t know the exact course (it may be available through Pittsburgh news archives, but since this series is focused on CMU’s buggy races, I didn’t pay much attention to Pitt’s), but it took place on Bigelow Blvd and Bayard St. In 1925, 8 of the 16 entrants crashed and piled up on the corner of Bigelow and Bayard, seriously injuring 2 participants and slightly injuring “a score” of spectators. One pusher was knocked unconscious and suffered lacerations to the head and body when his buggy crashed into an already wrecked buggy, and he was then struck by the next buggy coming around the corner. Another student suffered a dislocated jaw. A cameraman for the Post-Gazette was also injured and his camera smashed when he was struck by a Buggy and thrown 10 feet into the air. Here’s some photos from the Post-Gazette, but what I’m really saying is that CMU’s course is WAY better for Buggy than Pitt’s ever was.
Images from Pitt’s dangerous course in 1925

1934

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, May 11; Finals on Saturday, May 12

Sweepstakes Committee: Unknown

Race Results: (1) KapSig (2:49.7 – COURSE RECORD); (2) PiKA; (3) Theta Xi; (4) DTD

Design Comp: (1) Beta; (2) ?; (3) Theta Xi

Weather: Possibly overcast on Friday, Sunny Saturday; High of 64/63, Low of 49/39

Beta’s 3-wheeled success spawned some imitators, and one of those found success in 1934. The lack of archives from the year limits our full picture though.

  • Small Field?  According to the May 11, 1934 Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, only 7 fraternities entered buggies.  Since this was a Pittsburgh city paper, rather than the Tartan, it’s very possible that this number refers to a subset of entries (maybe it was 7 in one heat, or 7 qualified for finals) rather than the total, since this would be a significant drop-off from 18 in 1933. On the other hand, photos at the bottom of this post from the 1935 Thistle show 7 total buggies, spread out over 2 heats, so it’s possible that the drop-off occurred.
  • Trouble Brewing; Rules Recap. To understand the troubles that would befall Beta in 1934, I need to remind you of 2 rule differences that existed in the early days and have previously been mentioned, but play specific roles in 1934. 
    1. The Hill 2 pusher actually travels with the Buggy by riding on it through the freeroll.  That pusher then transitions the Buggy to the Hill 3 pusher deep in the Chute (slightly earlier than the present-day start of Hill 3).
    2. Pusher transitions must occur within the transition zone – the first pusher must be touching the Buggy when it enters the zone, and the second pusher must be touching the Buggy as it leaves the zone.
  • Beta’s No-Good-Very-Bad-Day. In 1934, Beta was cruising along in their heat and getting ready to threepeat as champion.  They entered the chute leading by about 50 yards.  As they began to transition from Hill 2 to Hill 3 (through the Chute), Beta’s buggy was moving particularly fast.  The Hill 2 pusher pushed off, but the buggy was travelling too fast for the Hill 3 pusher.  He made a desperate attempt to catch up, but stumbled and fell, and the buggy crossed the end of the transition zone without a pusher (can you imagine if that were still a rule today!). In fact, it took so long for the pusher to get up that the buggy had actually come to a stop and started to roll back towards the chute.  The pusher eventually caught up to it and Beta easily crossed the finish line first, with a time of 2:54 that put it in first place after the Prelims (4 seconds in front of 2nd place), but they were DQ’d for a transition zone violation.
  • KapSig’s KopyKat.  KapSig saw Beta’s success with a 3-wheeled design and, in true buggy fashion, decided to make one of their own.  It was a brilliant decision, and that new design, combined with fast pushers and the DQ of Beta, led them to a course record 2:49.7, earning their first win since the final Campus Week in 1928.
  • Beta Gets Redemption at Design.  It may have been DQ’d in the race, but Beta’s buggy was good enough to take home the Design Comp trophy, snapping Theta Xi’s 4-year winning streak.  See photo right for Beta’s design-winning Buggy, which we believe was the same buggy as the previous 2 years, but with a new aluminum cover, rather than the prior airplane silk.
Beta’s Buggy being pushed in 1934, courtesy of the 5/11/1934 Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph

1935

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, May 10 @ 11am; Finals on Saturday, May 11 @ 11am

Sweepstakes Committee: Unknown

Race Results: (1) Beta (2:47.2 – COURSE RECORD); (2) KapSig

Design Comp: (1) Theta Xi; (2) PiKA; (3) Beta

Weather: Possible rain on Friday; Sunny on Saturday; High of 72/71, Low of 56/49

There were 2 big stories in 1935; the final crowning of Beta (before KapSig would begin their reign of terror in the pre-WWII era), and SABOTAGE.

  • Staggered Lanes.  Due to the traffic dummies on Tech Street, teams in the outside lanes (think Lane 3) were at a disadvantage as they were forced to go wide to avoid the dummies.  Therefore, Sweepstakes instituted a staggered start and gave those teams a 3 yard advantage.  Buggies were required to stay in their lane until they passed the second dummy at the top of Hill 2.
  • 3-Wheelers Are The Future.  This is the first time in several years that the Tartan printed the official Sweepstakes rules.  So we don’t know exactly when the 4-wheel rule changed (other than Beta rolling a 3-wheeler in 1932), but by 1935 the rules officially required no fewer than 3 and no more than 5 wheels on a Buggy.  Other formalized rules included that the pusher must be touching the Buggy at all times, except in the transition zones (and the transition zones are 10 yards wide), and that all Design Comp entries were required to race.
  • Previewing the Top Contenders.  1935 was expected to be a 3-team race.  The May 7 Tartan noted that the battle was between Beta, KapSig, and DTD.  Beta’s buggy resembled a polished “bullet-shaped bathtub” (see the photo from 1934 above), while DTD debuted “knee action wheels, the latest in pushmobile designs”.
  • The First (But Not Last) Attempted Course Sabotage.  Many Buggy fans know about the great “oil slick” controversy of 1985 (and if you don’t, have no fear…we’ll get there!).  But what you may not know is that the 1985 incident was merely honoring the 50th anniversary of the first attempted sabotage of the Buggy course!  Prior to the race (whether it was Prelims or Finals is never specifically mentioned, but from context, it was likely the Finals), someone dumped a bucket of sand in the Chute.  The purpose of the sand was reportedly to cause the first Buggy to reach the Chute to skid and flip over, potentially injuring the driver and pusher of the leading Buggy.  The Tartan hints that the intended target of this sabotage was Beta. Luckily, the sand was discovered and cleared before the race began, so it didn’t ultimately affect the race.
  • Race Results.  The rules stated that the race would be run in 3 heats, with the top 2 teams from each heat advancing to Finals.  However, we only know of the results of 2 Prelim heats, so it’s unclear if 3 actually ran or it decreased to 2.  In the first, PiKA was victorious and DTD finished in 2nd, though the time of the heat was considered “rather slow”.  In the second heat, Beta easily defeated KapSig by a wide margin, with those two advancing to the Finals.  In the Finals, Beta took the lead up the front hills and entered the Chute well in front.  But they lost some of their speed at the Chute-Hill 3 transition and KapSig quickly gained on Hill 3.  Beta held on through the final 2 Hills and was able to narrowly nose out the late charge of KapSig in what the Tartan (incorrectly?) referred to as a “Garrison Finish“, setting a course record of 2:47.2.

Next week, we’ll cover the rest of the 1930s, but a warning in advance – We are missing digital archives of the Tartan from 1936-1939, so information about these years is pretty limited (particularly 1937, our current White Whale, where we only have a (very) educated guess of who actually won), so if YOU know any information about these years, let us know! On the plus side…we do have plenty of scanned photos!

Beta’s buggy from 1933 (from the 1934 Thistle)
Beta’s buggy being pushed in a transition zone in 1933 (from the 1934 Thistle)
The starting line in 1933 (Heat unknown; from the 5/1/1956 Tartan)
The starting line from one of the heats in 1935 (or possibly 1934) (from the 1935 Thistle)
An unknown buggy from 1933 – Can you ID it? (From the 1934 Thistle)
A buggy in a transition zone in 1933 (from the 1934 Thistle)
The starting line from one of the heats in 1935 (or possibly 1934) (from the 1935 Thistle)
Beta on the back hills in 1935 (or possibly 1934) (from the 1935 Thistle)

Rolls Report: Oct. 13 – The Good, the Bad, and the Buggy

Welcome back for another exciting Rolls Report installment. This weekend we saw the debut of a new team and the return of an old so our buggy family is growing bigger and bigger! Sweepstakes was a bit of an odd tri-generational mish mash with Jake missing and Tishya still broken. Willy Clark (last year’s Assistant Chairman) was a real hero and stepped up to fill in for Jake. And I gave Tishya a HAND (badum tss) with her Safety Chairing duties. There was of course the addition of Bingo (Diya’s dog) to this weekend’s Sweepstakes Committee, tagging along in the safety vehicle when things got RUFF (I’m on fire today).

Also it has been brought to my attention that I have been misspelling PiKA’s buggy’s name. I apologize for the error and will make sure Cleeyona is spelled properly in future rolls reports.

In Attendance 

OrgSunday
AEPiKamikaze
ApexPhoenix, Firefly, Solaris
CIAEquinox, Tempest, Emperor
DGBrazen
FringeBoson, Blueshift, Bumper, Blind Faith
PhiDeltArgo
PiKARaptor, Cleeyona
SDCAvarice, Vice, Vanity
SigEpBarracuda, Hydra
SpiritInviscid, Kingpin II, Zuke

Observations (Sunday Gallery)

AEPi has returned to the course! AEPi has been on a buggy hiatus, but brought Kamikaze back out of retirement. Unfortunately, Kamikaze’s front hatch, had other plans and AEPi’s first roll of the year came to an early end shortly after the Hill 2 push off. They then scratched for the rest of the day to work out their hatch attachment issues.

Apex was getting buggies out fast and efficiently and it nearly brought a tear to my eye to hear an Apex pusher yell at SDC mechanics to get out of THEIR way. Something I never thought I’d experience. Although, it looks like Firefly has a boo boo from this picture. Get better soon, Firefly!

CIA got a few rolls in without any issues and it looks like Emperor got a haircut from the previous week.

DG made its debut appearance at rolls this weekend and (sort of) got their first roll ever in. Sorority Delta Gamma is the first of this year’s new teams to successfully get out onto the course. DG got some rolls experience with sister and PiKA driver, Katy trying out their buggy, Brazen (a loaner from Fringe). Their first roll was a little too slow to make it through the chute unassisted, but Brazen proudly made it around in the next.

Fringe is safe from my sass and criticism this week.

PhiDelt and AEPi flaggers were running a little late and drove down behind Spirit’s follow car in the first roll. However, they seemed a little confused by the concept of flagging as both flaggers were still in the car after driving around. Don’t worry, they eventually got to their positions.

Argo had a more serious accident when it jumped onto the curb and into a sign post just before the transition flag. The driver was alright, but needed to be extracted and the team scratched for the rest of the day. We hope to see them out and around the course next rolls!

PiKA was feeling a little antsy about not getting enough rolls in (especially with their driver spending so much time in Brazen) which led to a few complications later on. Chairmen from all teams were confused and upset by the sight of a lone Pike buggy taking over and rolling in DG’s place from some miscommunication issues. Needless to say, Pike did not get that roll counted, but rolls were able to continue on without any delays.

SDC was out, with Vice, Vanity, and Avarice (that’s a lot of v’s) getting in a roll in all three cycles on Sunday.

SigEp had a minor accident just past the Westinghouse memorial where Barracuda spun and hit the curb. It happened so quickly that their follow car didn’t notice and drove past, leading to some confused Radio Club members alerting Sweepstakes of the missing buggy. Judging by those rather large chunks that came off, Cuda will need some bodywork, but no major components were damaged.

Spirit seemed to have an uneventful but productive day at rolls, getting two to three rolls in each of their buggies.

We had a great turnout this Sunday for parents weekend, so I’d just like to thank all of the families and alumni that attended rolls or any of the other Scotty Saturday activities (including Tom Wood’s talk or the tabling). Thank you for all the support!

Rumor of the week:

The Sweepstakes Assistant Chairman, Jake, was mysteriously absent this weekend. Word on the streets is that he got into business with some bad people and was kidnapped. Luckily, Sweepstakes was able to use all of PhiDelt’s fine money to get him back in time for the Chairmen’s meeting Monday night.

Ignore this

Ignore this

Stay tuned for the next rolls report and any buggy related updates!

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Rolls Report Contributors:

Jasio S.
Ben M.
Ethan G.

Upcoming Events and New Initiatives #1

With the first couple weekends of rolls behind us, the 100th year of buggy has officially begun! I am proud to serve as the BAA President in this auspicious time, and am already in awe at the work put in by students, alumni and staff to make Buggy100 happen. We’ll be announcing new initiatives throughout the year, and already there are a couple to share.

Family Weekend and Homecoming Programming

For both weekends we’ll have bagels, coffee, and hot chocolate available for alumni attending Rolls Practice, weather permitting. Additionally our very own Tom Wood has graciously agreed to present the History of Buggy once on each weekend for interested enthusiasts! In addition to having a buggy or two on hand, I’ve heard that there will be some new material for returning attendees, in case you’ve been before.

New Team Incubator

We’ve built a structured incubator for new buggy teams, combining physical resources (loanable buggies and wheels), mentorship from an appointed alum, and a small seed fund each ($500). In addition, several BAA officers and members are collaborating on an open source Buggy Build Book to guide new teams on the basics of composites and racing. Several new or returning teams have been accepted and we’re hoping to see them at rolls very soon!

Raceday Event Expansion

Of course, Buggy100 is going to be a big event! We’ll be throwing a centennial celebration to mark the occasion, with additional Decades of Buggy reception events to reconnect with other buggy alumni Friday afternoon. We’re expecting a big crowd so we’re looking to spruce up amenities and attractions across the board. Lots more announcements in this area to come

Let us know what you think in the BAA Discord chat! https:/cmubuggy.org/chat

100 Years of Buggy History – 1928-1932

Previous Articles: Intro & 1920; 1921-1923; 1924-1927

This week, 100 Years of Buggy History gets into the late 1920s and early 1930s. Say hello to Frew Street, as the Buggy Course makes its final change, and goodbye to Campus Week, as the faculty worries about the impact of festivities on its students.

1928

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, May 4, 1928 @ 3:30pm; Finals on Saturday, May 5, 1928 @ 10:30am

Sweepstakes Committee: George Campbell (Chair), James Ashwell, John Wilkins, Morgan B. Maze, Thomas Lippert

Race Results: (1) KapSig; (2) SigNu; (3) Phi Kappa

Design Comp: SAE (Winner); Phi Sigma Kappa (Honorable Mention – Best Aesthetic Design)

Weather: Perfect; High of 81/86 (Low of 49/56)

1928 brought about the last major change to the course that has carried over for 92 years, and the races moved out of the Greek system for the first time.  Meanwhile, Campus Week, the home of Buggy, was shortened to 2 days in a sign of things to come.

  • Campus Week Shrinks.  Campus Week, the precursor to Spring Carnival, was shortened from 3 days to 2 days (with fewer decorations and no “Mardi Gras” celebration) upon the decision of the Faculty Executive Committee.  The result was that Friday’s prelims were pushed to the afternoon, rather than run in the morning, as more events had to be crammed into 1 fewer day.
  • Frew Street Appears and the Final Course Change is Made.  CMU officials put together a petition for the opening, grading, and paving of Frew Street late in 1926, and by March of 1928, Frew Street had been completed.  Frew Street replaced Woodlawn Avenue beginning in the Chute, and extended the road until it intersected with Tech Street.  As a result, the Buggy course was changed one final time, following Frew Street to the Frew/Tech intersection, rather than turning through campus and around CFA.  That course is still intact today.
The course, beginning in 1928. Letters A-E are the starts of each of the 5 Hills
  • Dorm Participation.  For the first time, Buggy was opened to a non-Greek organization.  In order to make Buggy an all-campus event, rather than just focused on the Greek system, the Men’s Dorms were permitted to enter Buggies; though it’s unclear if any actually did.
  • Design Comp Trophy Change.  In a change to the previous rules, the winner of the race is also permitted to win Design Comp (prior to 1928, if the winner of the race won Design Comp, the Design Comp trophy would go to the 2nd place Design Comp finisher).
  • Buggies, Both Old and New.  An unknown number of organizations entered Raceday 1928.  But we do know something about most of those orgs’ buggies.  Beta Sigma Rho, Beta Theta Pi, DTD, and PhiKap, all returned the same Buggies from 1927.  ATO, Delta Mu (KDR), Delta Phi Delta, Kappa Sigma Rho, PiKA, SAE, SigNu, and Theta Xi, all brought back the same Buggies from 1927 but with some mechanical changes, new parts, or new designs.  Alpha Sigma Phi, DU, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Sigma Kappa, and SigEp, each built new Buggies for Raceday 1928.
  • Prelim Heats.  Heat #1 saw KapSig lead the entire way, finishing with a 3:08.6.  ATO and Kappa Sigma Rho went into the freeroll 2nd and 3rd, respectively, but as they approached the finish line, SigEp caught Kappa Sigma Rho for 3rd (ATO finished 2nd).  In Heat #2, SigNu went wire-to-wire, finishing in 3:13.6, while they were followed into the freeroll by SAE and Delta Phi Delta.  By the finish line, Delta Phi Delta had passed SAE for 2nd, while SAE held on for 3rd.  In Heat #3, PiKA was the one who led the entire way, finishing in 3:10.2, while Beta and DTD went into the freeroll in that order, but neck-and-neck.  Eventually, DTD passed Beta for 2nd, and Beta had to settle for 3rd.  In Heat #4, Theta Xi was first into the freeroll, but Phi Kappa, who was 3rd into the freeroll, managed to pass both Phi Sigma Kappa (who was 2nd early) and Theta Xi to win the heat in the top time of 3:05.  Theta Xi held on to 2nd, and DU managed to finish 3rd.  The top 2 from each of the 4 Heats (KapSig, ATO, SigNu, Delta Phi Delta, PiKA, DTD, Phi Kappa, Theta Xi) advanced to the Finals on Saturday.
  • Finals.  On the front hills, PiKA grabbed the early lead, going into the freeroll first.  They were followed closely by Phi Sigma Kappa and Phi Kappa.  Unfortunately for PiKA, they couldn’t quite make it to the backhills, as they crashed in the chute.  Ultimately, it was KapSig who crossed the finish line first, followed by SigNu and Phi Kappa.  KapSig made a 4 second improvement off of their first day time and set the “course record” (of course, it was a new course) with a winning time of 3:04.4.  KapSig’s winning team consisted of driver Robert Wright and pushers Allen, Lovewell, Stauffer, Flannigan, and Kennedy.
  • Design Comp.  SAE took home the design trophy thanks to their mechanical qualities.

1929

Raceday: Prelims on Saturday, May 18, 1929 @ 10am; Finals on Saturday, May 25, 1929

Sweepstakes Committee: Unknown

Race Results: (1) PhiKap (3:05.6 – COURSE RECORD); KapSig and SigNu finished 2nd and 3rd (order is unknown)

Design Comp: Unknown

Weather: Rain for Prelims, High of 75/Low of 50; Sunny for Finals, High of 72/Low of 45

1929 saw the elimination of Campus Week, which left only Buggy to carry the torch of CMU traditions (and caused the races to run on back-to-back Saturdays).  The lack of available Tartan archives limits our knowledge of the year a bit, but we do know a little.

  • Campus Week Ends.  In a vote in May 1928, the Faculty Executive Committee officially discontinued Campus Week, over the objections of the Student Council and student body.  The faculty decided that Campus Week was too much of a distraction from schoolwork.  A petition from the students in December 1928 would ultimately help usher in the 1930 Spring Carnival, but the result of no 1929 Campus Week meant that Buggy could only take place on Saturdays.
  • Participation Shrinks.  The other result of Campus Week being eliminated was that fewer organizations participated.  In fact, there were only 10 teams competing in 1929, roughly half of the number of participants in 1928.
  • Heats and Results.  The Prelims were divided into 3 heats, and the winner of each Heat would then move onto the Finals the following week. Heat 1 consisted of 3 teams, and the heat was won by PhiKap (driver: Harry Kolb; Hill 5 Pusher: William Henderson).  Heat 2 also consisted of 3 teams, and was won by KapSig (driver: Bob Wright).  Heat 3 had 4 teams in total, and the winner was SigNu (driver: Bruce Finney).  Ultimately, those 3 teams squared off the following week, and PhiKap raced to victory, in a course record 3:05.6. See photos below.

1930

Raceday: Prelims on Wednesday, May 7 @ 7:30pm; Finals on Saturday, May 10, 1930 @ 9:30am

Sweepstakes Committee: Dave Tomer (Chair), Albert Redding, James Leonard, Albert Scott, Harold Weitzel

Race Results: (1) Beta (2:57.5 – COURSE RECORD); (2) Phi Sigma Kappa

Design Comp: (1) Theta Xi

Weather: Sunny; High of 86/88, Low of 68/64

1930 witnessed the return of the 3-day festivities in the Spring semester, but this time under a new name…Spring Carnival.  It also brought about a very unique Raceday structure.

  • Introducing…Spring Carnival!  After cancelling Campus Week in 1929, enough students banded together to convince the faculty to bring back the tradition on a trial basis, and the faculty approved the student council’s program in January 1930.  The resulting event was dubbed Spring Carnival.  Following its conclusion, the Tartan called it “the beginning of something new and something decidedly essential to the school and to the student body.”  And 90 years later, here we are.
  • Raceday on Wednesday?  The official Spring Carnival program kicked off at 9pm on Thursday night with the Coronation Dance, and the Sweepstakes Finals were scheduled for Saturday from 9:30-11am.  But due to the addition of an event called Circus Day (a.k.a. the Country Fair) on Friday morning, the Sweepstakes Prelims, which were originally expected to be on Friday at 10:30am, were moved to Wednesday evening, May 7, at 7:30pm.
  • Small Fields Make For Unique Heats.  The then-typical heat setup of the top 2 from 3 heats plus the next 2 fastest times advancing to the finals had to be scrapped when only 8 organizations entered a Buggy.  Instead, the race was modified so that there were 4 total heats, with 2 Buggies in each heat.  Of those, 6 of the 8 teams would qualify for the finals on Saturday (it was likely the winner of each heat, plus the two fastest 2nd place finishers).
  • Orgs and Results.  The 8 teams squaring off in Buggy were KapSig, PiKA, DTD, Beta, SigNu, PhiKap, Phi Sigma Kappa, and Theta Xi.  Of those, the 6 who advanced to the Finals were SigNu, DTD, Beta, KapSig, PhiKap, and Phi Sigma Kappa (sorry to PiKA and Theta Xi).  In the finals on Saturday morning, it was Beta who ended up on top, setting the course record in a 2:57.5, with Phi Sigma Kappa closely behind in 2nd.

1931

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, May 8 @ 10am; Finals on Saturday, May 9 @ 10:30am

Sweepstakes Committee: Dale Knouse (Chair – KapSig)

Race Results: (1) DTD (2:59), (2) Beta, (3) KapSig

Design Comp: (1) Theta Xi

Weather: Probably overcast (light rain in Pittsburgh on both days); High of 61/72, Low of 47/52

1931 saw a close race, with 3 preliminary heats leading into a very exciting finals.

  • Pushing Rules are Relaxed.  It’s unclear exactly when this happened, but some of the rules from the mid-1920s were relaxed by 1931.  There was no longer a prohibition on track or cross-country athletes pushing a Buggy.  This did cause a bit of an issue, however, because a track meet against Washington & Jefferson was scheduled for the Saturday of Finals.  It’s unclear if any track athletes skipped the meet to push Buggy, though the Tartans’ domination of the Presidents by the score of 104-30 in the track meet suggests that no one stayed behind to push.
  • Raceday Back to Friday.  After a 2-year hiatus, Prelims moved back to its standard Friday slot, replacing the prior year’s Circus Day.  It turns out that Circus Day did not give sufficient time in the day for Prelims, and there was far more interest in Buggy than in Circus Day.
  • Pittsburgh Aviators Take to the Buggy Course.  A report from the Pittsburgh Press on May 2, 1931 suggest that the Pittsburgh School of Aviation division of Main Aeronautics Company (I believe this is now known as the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics) would be entering a Buggy on Raceday that was designed to look like Kaye Don’s Silver Bullet.  It’s unclear how exactly they were entering, but my best guess is that this represents the entry of a new CMU fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha (formerly Kappa Sigma Rho, which went dormant in 1935).  Lambda Chi Alpha at Pitt seemed to have some connection to the aviation community.
  • Heat Selections and Prelims.  This year, all organizations were required to attend a Heat Selection meeting on Thursday at 11:30am, and failure to show up would result in a disqualification.  Ultimately, 15 organizations entered the race.  They were divided into 3 heats, in which the top 2 teams from each heat would advance to the Finals.  The heats and results were:
    • Heat 1: Alpha Sig, Theta Xi, DU, ATO and SAE – DU and SAE were the top 2 teams, and the Heat was won with a 3:15.5 time.
    • Heat 2: Phi Kappa Psi, PhiKap, SigEp, SigNu, and Beta – SigEp and Beta were the top 2 teams, and the Heat was won with a 3:26 time.
    • Heat 3: Lambda Chi Alpha, KapSig, Phi Sigma Kappa, DTD, and PiKA – KapSig and DTD were the top 2 teams, and the Heat was won with a 3:09.5 time.
  • DTD Sweeps Pittsburgh.  We don’t have a lot of details about the Finals.  But we do know that it was very close.  DTD managed to shave 10 seconds off of their Prelim time to win, with a 2:59 time, and Beta and KapSig finished very closely behind, with only a few yards distance between those 3.  DTD’s winning buggy was driven by Ernest Lemon.  But not only did DTD win CMU’s Buggy race, they also won Pitt’s buggy race!  This was the first time that an organization swept both races. (And yes, Pitt had buggy too.  More on that next week).
  • Travelling Trophy.  DTD’s win earned them a trophy.  But early in the fall of 1932, they noticed that their precious trophy had gone missing!  One week later, the trophy was returned to them by mail.

1932

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, May 20 @ 11am; Finals on Saturday, May 21 @ 11am

Sweepstakes Committee: Lorin C. Brown (Chair – SigNu)

Race Results: (1) Beta (2:54.8 – COURSE RECORD); (2) DTD; (3) ATO

Design Comp: (1) Theta Xi; (2) Beta

Weather: Sunny; High of 83/82, Low of 51/59

1932 saw a couple of rule additions, the introduction of lanes to the course, and the first of many devastating DQs.

  • Designs Must Race.  In 1932 a new rule was added that to be eligible for Design Competition, the Buggy must actually race.  It’s unclear why this rule was added (possibly to get more buggies racing?); one can only imagine a rash of orgs that decided “let’s build this Buggy but not bother to actually race it!”.  Another older rule returned as well, as track and cross-country runners were once again deemed ineligible to participate.
  • Alternates Permitted. For the first time, orgs were allowed to submit the name of 2 alternates on their roster, in addition to the 5 pushers and 1 driver, in order to provide for a backup in the event of an injury or illness.
  • Front Hills Add Lanes.  Traffic flow must have been a problem on Tech and Schenley, because in 1932 the City of Pittsburgh decided to add traffic dummies and flashers to the top of the hill.  This created an imbalance on the front hills, and therefore Sweepstakes decided to create lanes for the buggies.  Any buggy leaving its lane prior to the neutral zone at the top of Hill 2 would be DQ’d, and spectators were warned to stay off the street on the front hills to avoid interfering with the outside buggies.
A view of the traffic dummy can be seen in the background of this photo (from a later date)
  • Beta TRIes a New Design.  The rule requiring buggies to have 4 wheels was eliminated at some point, so Beta decided to try something radical in 1932 – a 3-wheeler!  Designed as a standard trike, it turned out to be a successful experiment, as Beta won the race in a new course record time of 2:54.8, shaving almost 3 seconds off of their prior course record. The design also earned them a 2nd place finish in the Design Competition.
  • Prelim Heats.  We don’t know exactly how many teams competed, but we do know it was at least 9.  The race was run in 3 heats, with the top 2 from each heat advancing to the finals.  KapSig led the field heading into the finals, but given how spread out times were in the early era, the buggies were all packed closely together.  The heat results were:
    • Heat 1: (1) Beta (3:05), (2) Phi Kappa Psi, (3) SigNu (Beta and Phi Psi advance)
    • Heat 2: (1) KapSig (3:03), (2) DTD, (3) DU (KapSig and DTD advance)
    • Heat 3: (1) Theta Xi (3:08), ATO, (3) Alpha Sig (Theta Xi and ATO advance)
  • Phi Psi’s Bad Day.  In the finals, all 6 orgs were bunched together until the final stretch.  But on Hill 5, it was Phi Kappa Psi who pulled into the lead.  They went on to cross the finish line first!  Unfortunately, Hill 5 pusher George Kavel was one of many over the years who misjudged how fast the buggy would roll on Hill 5, and the buggy crossed the finish line without a pusher.  As the May 24 Tartan wrote, “the Phi Psi car crossed the finish line first but did it so easily that it didn’t need a pusher at the finish.”  That resulted in Phi Psi being DQ’d for a pushbar violation, handing the win over to Beta’s 3-wheeler.
Photo of PhiKap’s Winning Buggy in 1929 (from 05-19-1929 Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph)
Photo of SigNu’s Top 3 Buggy in 1929 (from 05-19-1929 Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph)
Photo of SAE’s Buggy in 1929 (from 05-19-1929 Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph)
1932 Starting Line (from the 1933 Thistle)

Rolls Report: Oct. 5 & 6 – Breaking Buggy

I thought this dramatic picture of Jake (Assistant Chairman) was too cool to not include in this rolls report.

Welcome back for another rolls report (now with double the days and double the content)! Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume I didn’t offend you too much with my first report so here goes Round 2.

I meant to have this published sooner… but I accidentally broke the Safety Chairman. It turns out two Safety Chairmen together does NOT equal double the safety (see below).

In Attendance 

OrgSaturdaySunday
Apex Phoenix, Firefly, Azula, SolarisPhoenix, Firefly, Solaris
CIA Equinox, Tempest, Emperor, Aurora, Icarus Equinox, Tempest, Emperor, Aurora, Icarus
Fringe Boson, Blueshift, Bumper, Blind Faith Blueshift, Bumper, Blind Faith
PhiDelt Argo🙁
PiKA Raptor, Cleohna Raptor, Cleohna
SDC Avarice, Vice, VanityAvarice, Vice, Bane, Vanity
SigEp Kraken, Hydra
SigNu Bungarus Krait
Spirit Inviscid, Seraph, Zuke, Kingpin II Inviscid, Seraph, Zuke

Observations (Saturday Gallery | Sunday Gallery)

This chilly weekend we had a full weekend of rolls where teams got up to 4 rolls Saturday and 5 rolls on Sunday (unless you’re Fringe and squeezed in a 6th). Sweepstakes kept things running smoothly and quickly, even with the number of incidents. Here’s the breakdown:

Apex’s Phoenix lost a back hatch, but that’s not news. Apex also got an amazing Hill 2 push off from their favorite alum (spoiler: it was me).

CIA trying something a little new with tufts testing on Emperor hoping to get some air flow data on their shell design (emphasis on hoping). We did notice Emperor popped a couple wheelies from catchers yanking on the pushbar so I wonder what that’ll do for their data. In other news, they are going fast and are in no means easing into the semester judging by their A team level push offs and asking Sweepstakes to “race against each other”. Though that’s something we tend to avoid… even on raceday. Unfortunately, Aurora had a spin and lost a wheel in the chute. Hopefully she’ll be back out this weekend! I would love to eventually see that pushbar go all the way down.

Fringe had another rough weekend of rolls. Bumper lost a fairing cover, Boson was mysteriously carried off the course without an explanation, and Blueshift earned this year’s first Accident Report with a brief curb clip at the base of Hill 3. Congrats guys, you beat SDC to it!

PhiDelt made a triumphant return to the course this year on Saturday. PhiDelt brought out two new drivers but unfortunately, didn’t get very far. Their first driver fishtailed to a stop at the Stop Sign where the Safety Chair and I conducted an impromptu driver extraction. The driver reported visibility problems and was brought back to the top of the hill. However, PhiDelt didn’t get the notice that their buggy was still waiting in the grass for them to collect until shortly before their next turn. Their next driver reported a foggy windshield and came to a stop in a similar spot on the second cycle and was also extracted. The third roll came to an even earlier stop right at the Hill 2 push off. What could have been a great redemption story came to an end when PhiDelt’s rubbing brakes kept them from even getting to the top of the hill for the last roll of the day. It was a rough day, but we’re all hoping to see them push through (pun intended) and get in a roll this weekend.

PiKA is mostly safe from my snarky remarks this week and racked up some rolls without any issues. All two of their mechanics at the top of the hill seemed to have everything under control. Keen to give 110%, they gave Cleohna one of the longest Hill 2 pushoffs seen on the course.

He had actually made it a bit further down the freeroll before I thought to take a picture.

SDC brought out a fleet of bagged buggies out on Saturday where each of their new drivers got a chance to get some rolls in without any problems. Sunday was less successful when Bane had a spinout in the chute. But like champs, they quickly got going again after getting the EMS clear and pushed Bane back up the backhills. The following buggies also got the clear, but from some miscommunications rolled into the chute with the SDC follow car and safety car still there. Luckily, the bagged drivers were able to make the turn and stay clear of the vehicles. It would’ve been cruel irony if the safety car was involved in an accident. Avarice later had a spin and lost a wheel at their chute flag in a following roll and was carried off the course. The next roll saw Vanity rolling all alone (perhaps fitting of the buggy’s name) until Vice rejoined for the last roll.

SigEp still has nothing to report, which I guess here is a good thing. They were out Saturday and got three rolls in Hydra and two in Kraken.

SigNu also made a return to the course on Sunday, getting in four incident-free rolls in Bungarus Krait.

Spirit got in a solid number of rolls and has almost found that sweet spot at the top of the hill where their buggies don’t scrape the ground on the way back.

Rumor of the week:

While CIA mechanics insist this is part of air flow analysis, it is rumored that the night before rolls someone accidentally spilled Rogaine on Emperor, leading to this…

Come back this upcoming weekend for Saturday & Sunday rolls, weather permitting, as we count down to Raceday 100!!


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100 Years of Buggy History – 1924-1927

Previous Articles: Intro & 1920; 1921-1923

This week, 100 Years of Buggy History goes further into the 1920s. The course continues to evolve, rules start to become standardized, the Prelim/Finals setup begins, and one fraternity creates the first Buggy dynasty.

1924

Raceday: Saturday, May 17, 1924 at 10:00am

Sweepstakes Committee: William Fencil (Chair), Vernon L. Wendlandt, Albert Thomas, L.F. Vogt

Race Results: (1) KapSig, (2) SAE, (3) DTD

Design Comp: DTD (Winner); Beta (Honorable Mention)

Weather: Sunny; 71 Degrees (Low of 45)

1924 was a relatively uneventful year of Buggy, but it did see a couple of important changes that brought the race closer to what we see today.

  • Raceday on the Weekend. The 1923 races went off successfully, so there were few planned changes to the races for 1924.  The biggest change that was planned?  Moving Raceday from Friday to Saturday!  By having the race on Saturday morning, Sweepstakes hoped that more alumni would be able to attend the race.
  • Push or Drive? Another rule was added in 1924 to clarify that Pushers are pushers and Drivers are drivers. They could not swap places. In addition, a rule clarified that the transition zones for pushers were 5 yards wide, and that the transition must occur in that zone.
  • Steam Tunnels Change the Course. It wasn’t initially planned, but the course was forced to change in 1924 due to the construction of CMU’s steam tunnels. Originally, the starting line was going to be moved in front of Central Building (Baker Hall) to give teams an equal footing at the start, but due to construction of the steam tunnels (running from Scaife Hall to Margaret Morrison), the starting line was moved to its present location – in front of Margaret Morrison at the bottom of Tech Street. The finish line was unmoved (it remained at the end of the now-CFA parking lot, the current site of Spring Carnival’s Midway).
  • KapSig Goes Back to the Wheel Well. KapSig brought back their same buggy from 1923, but they couldn’t get the same harness racing wheels on loan. So instead, they reached out to James Dawson Callery (a Pittsburgh banker, industrialist, and sportsman), who lent them 4 wheels from his harness racer, Lady Jones.  (Side note: Lady Jones was a champion runner back in the early 1900s, but her biggest claim to fame is that she is the only horse, and KapSig’s 1924 wheels were the only wheels, to have defeated a trotter named The Harvester, who was elected into the Wisconsin Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2011. )
  • Raceday Results. 18 Buggies competed in 1924.  KapSig appears to have won somewhat easily, with SAE and DTD coming around the final turn together thereafter.  The KapSig buggy was driven by W.C. Wilson.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that KapSig’s repeat win was very unlikely, saying that “the odds would certainly have been 100/1 against their repeating,” though that seems to suggest a lack of understanding of Buggy by the Post-Gazette.
  • Design. DTD took the Design Competition, though we don’t have any information about what their buggy looked like.
  • Tappa Tappa? The May 21 Tartan’s headline for their Raceday 1924 noted that “Tappa Tappa Tappa” was DQ’d, but I have been unable to determine who “Tappa Tappa Tappa” is – This is the only reference in CMU’s archives (aside from a 1927 reference to the “Tappa Tappas” having a buggy), and Google didn’t turn up any references to this as a nickname. So I may be missing a joke or a reference here – But if you know it, post below!

1925

Raceday: Friday, May 15, 1925 at 9:30am

Sweepstakes Committee: Ben J. Kristof (Chair), G.I. Murphy, R. De Pue, Sid Forbes, Bill Escher, W.A. Donahue, J.V. Bowser

Race Results: (1) KapSig, (2) SAE*, (3) DTD, (4) SigNu

Design Comp: (1) DTD, (2) Delta Mu (became KDR in 1930), (3) ATO, (4) PiKA

Weather: Ideal; 73 Degrees (Low of 43)

1925 saw some new rules try to level the playing field, and we got one step closer to the present-day course setup.

  • Raceday Moves Back to Friday. After a 1-year Saturday trial run, Raceday was moved back to its then-typical place on Friday.  But students made a strong push for alumni to come back and watch anyway.  The Tartan said that Buggy is put on “more for the entertainment of former students than for any other purpose.”
  • Starting Line Success; Finish Line Moves. One thing from 1924 did stick – The start of the course was permanently moved to the bottom of Tech Street (outside Margaret Morrison Hall).  In addition, the finish line was moved to this point as well. This resulted in a downhill straightaway to the finish line, rather than the uphill and/or curved approach to the finish line of previous years. See photo right.

1925 Course Map, courtesy of the April 28, 1925 Tartan
  • No Athletes Allowed. A couple of new rules were enacted in 1925.  One expanded the prohibition on varsity letter earners from track and cross-country runners to all varsity athletes.  It didn’t matter the sport; if you earned a varsity (or freshman) letter, you were ineligible.  Another prohibited the use of demountable parts on the buggy.
  • Design Comp Rule Changes. Another set of rules directly affected Design Competition.  “Freak” buggies (originally banned in 1923) were still prohibited, but now an additional rule was added so that Buggies must race in the same condition as they were in for design competition.  So orgs were no longer able to create a separate buggy just for Design Competition.  In addition, the trophy rules were changed so that if the buggy that won the race also won the Design Competition, the Design Comp trophy would go to the 2nd place finisher in the Design Competition.
  • Heat Discussions. For the first time, the idea of Preliminary Heats was proposed, in order to eliminate “the disorder which has ruined the chances of some of the contenders in former races”. 4 heats were proposed, but the plan was ultimately scrapped (at least for this year…).
  • The First Dynasty is Born. We don’t know too much about the race itself, other than the top 4 finishers.  KapSig pulled off the threepeat, becoming the first true Buggy dynasty.  SAE crossed the finish line 2nd, but the Tartan notes that their placing was contested, so we don’t know if they were officially awarded 2nd place or something else (possibly DQ’d?). Meanwhile, according to the May 19 Tartan, some pushers tried to make better time by running with the buggy in the freeroll.  Apparently they forgot how gravity and wheels work though, and the pushers all flopped onto the asphalt as other buggies sped past.
  • Design Winner. The winner of the Design Competition, DTD, entered a yellow buggy that was trimmed in brown, with a highly polished nickel radiator and a fin-like projection in the back.

1926

Raceday: Friday & Saturday, May 14-15, 1926 (Prelims on Friday; Finals at 11:00am on Saturday)

Sweepstakes Committee: Unknown

Race Results: (1) PiKA (3:18.3); (2) KapSig; (3) SAE

Design Comp: (1) ATO

Weather: Probably overcast with a possible drizzle on Friday; High of 71/65 on Friday/Saturday (lows of 54/51)

We don’t have a ton of information about 1926 (the Spring 1926 Tartan issues are missing from the digital archives), but the biggest change came in the form of the races – for (probably) the first time ever, the races were run in heats.

  • Racing in Heats.The biggest change to Buggy racing from 1926 was that, for the first time, the races were run in heats.  We don’t know how many orgs competed or how many heats they ran, but based on the records, our best guess is that the race was run in 3 heats of 6 buggies each.  6 teams would advance to the finals (likely the top 2 from each heat), where they raced in a single Finals.
  • The Need For Speed. According to the June CIT Alumnus, many of the buggies were built for “speed alone”, which was probably the result of the “no freaks” rule that was still in place.
  • Prelims. The 6 teams to advance to Finals were (1) PiKA, (2) KapSig, (3) PhiKap, (4) Woodlawn Club, (5) SAE, and (6) DTD.  We know for certain that in one of the 3 Prelim Heats, PiKA defeated KapSig.  Based on that, and the order in which the teams were printed in the May 15, 1926 edition of the Pittsburgh Daily Post, my assumption is that Heat 1 had PiKA 1st and KapSig 2nd, Heat 2 had PhiKap winning and Woodlawn Club 2nd, and Heat 3 had SAE on top with DTD 2nd.
  • Finals. In the finals, PiKA toppled the KapSig dynasty, and earned its first solo Buggy victory, with a 3:18.3 time.  KapSig finished 2nd, but they were pushed to the limit by the underslung buggy of SAE, which finished 3rd.

1927

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, May 13, 1927 @ 10:30am; Finals on Saturday, May 14, 1927 @ 11am

Sweepstakes Committee: Fred Woods (Chair), R. Buckley, J. Deane, Don Campbell, J. Schmid, Jim Bair

Race Results: (1) KapSig (3:15.8); (2) DTD; (3) Theta Xi

Design Comp: (1) Beta; (2) Phi Sigma Kappa (inactive in 1937); (3) Delta Mu (KDR)

Weather: Sunny on Friday, possible overcast on Saturday (High of 62/61, Low of 46/47)

1927 saw some expansion from 1926, with a few minor changes to the rules and one more major change to the teams.  Other than that, it was a year of consistency before one last significant change in 1928.

  • Athletes Allowed.  After a 2 year ban on athletes from any school sports, orgs were once again allowed to include athletes on their teams; as long as those athletes didn’t compete in Track or Cross-Country.
  • And 1 Pusher Makes 5 – The biggest change in 1927 saw the addition of a 5th Pusher to the team, splitting the backhills into 3 segments, rather than 2.  Prior to 1927, “Industries Hill” (which was essentially, but not quite, Frew Street) had 1 pusher on the equivalent of Hill 3, and then the final pusher taking over for the equivalent of Hill 4 and the race to the finish line.  The new rule added a 5th pusher at the end of the present-day Hill 4.  See photo right for a basic map.

Edited course map to show the addition of a 5th Hill, added in 1927.
  • Bump-and-Run Won’t Work.  The rules for transitions were a little more restrictive in the 1920s.  The first pusher was required to push until the start of the transition zone (the Buggy can’t just be shoved ahead), and the second pusher must be touching the Buggy by the time the transition zone ends.
  • ROTC Back on Duty. The crowds from earlier years proved unmanageable for the Alumni Police Force, so this year ROTC volunteered to patrol and control the crowds.
  • Making Finals. 18 organizations competed on Raceday.  They were divided into 3 heats of 6 teams for the Prelims.  8 teams made the finals – The top 2 from each Heat, and then the 2 fastest remaining times (you can imagine this addition may have been caused by a Buggy in 1927 that finished 3rd, but whose time was faster than the winners/second place finishers from other heats).  Only the first 4 buggies in each heat were timed.
  • Prelim Heats and Incidents.  In one of the 3 Prelim Heats, KapSig was victorious, with PhiKap running 2nd.  In a second Prelim Heat, DTD finished first and PiKA crossed the finish line in 2nd, but PiKA was DQ’d for a “rules infraction.”  There were “several wrecks” and “a couple of DQs”, and the biggest incident came courtesy of Kappa Sigma Rho, whose buggy suffered two broken wheels.  Luckily, the driver was uninjured.
  • Finals.  In the Finals, DTD got the early lead and reached the freeroll in front.  But from there, it was all KapSig, who passed DTD in the freeroll and never looked back, getting their dynasty back on track.  KapSig’s buggy was driven by Russ Roller.
  • Design Comp.  Design comp was won by Beta, who entered an “aluminum bodied chariot”, which may have been ahead of its time.  Phi Kappa Psi (inactive in 1934) may have had a chance, as they built a “remarkable” replica of Major Henry Seagrave’s “The Slug”, the land speed record holder and first vehicle to break 200 MPH.  Unfortunately, Phi Kappa Psi didn’t get their buggy to the design competition in time, and so they were ineligible to compete.
Photo of the Backhills (Present-Day Hill 4) in 1926, from the 1926 CIT Alumnus
Photo of the starting line in either 1924 or 1925, courtesy of the CMU Archives. For details about how we dated this photo, see the comments on the photo page.

Rolls Report: Sept. 28 – Dawn of the Planet of the Buggies

Hello again all you crazy buggy enthusiasts! Whether you’re new to the sport of buggy or just here reading for inaccuracies, I welcome you to the 2019-20 season with this first Rolls Report. Here, you’ll find pictures, data, snarky commentary, or whatever else I feel like including in the follow up to this past weekend’s rolls practice. So let’s get started.

*Also I figured since rolls got delayed so many weeks, I would delay the posting of this rolls report in solidarity with the Sweepstakes Committee.

As you may know, this is the 100th year of the races so it’s a big one. Despite getting a later start than Sweepstakes had hoped, Saturday was a pretty solid day of rolls. We saw the return of 7 teams and 19 buggies!!!

In Attendance 

OrgSaturday
Apex Phoenix, Firefly, Solaris
CIA Equinox, Tempest, Emperor, Aurora
Fringe Boson, Blueshift, Bumper, Blind Faith
PiKA Raptor, Kleona
SDC Inferno
SigEp Kraken
Spirit Inviscid, Seraph, Zuke, Kingpin II

Observations (Saturday Gallery)

We saw plenty of new drivers out on the course (8 to be exact!) and a couple more observing the veterans. There was a bit of readjusting with three teams (SDC, CIA, and Fringe) being displaced by Posner renovations and forced to relocate their staging areas to the base of Hill 1, but teams were able to get up to 3 rolls on Saturday.

Apex had to do some scrambling in the dark when their staging area in Posner Hall suddenly lost power.

CIA was hitting full speeds (including Hill 1s) after shedding their bags off of Emperor and Equinox.

Fringe…. was off to a bit of a rougher start. Blueshift lost a fairing cover on one of its rolls, but it was quickly recovered. Seems like the team just COULDN’T CATCH a break as shown with this quickly infamous picture of Blind Faith. Note Dave’s very concerned expression.

PiKA was trying out some new turning technology with the longer side of Kleona’s axle’s sticking out of the right side of the buggy, so we’ll see how that works out for them. The enthusiastic flooring of their follow car (VROOM VROOM) was cut short by the Sweepstakes Chairman scolding them. In their excitement, they also accidentally abandoned their buggy at the top of Hill 1.

SDC kicked off this year with Inferno getting in the first roll of the semester, while their new drivers observed.

SigEp. Hmm. Not much to report here besides getting some solid rolls with a returning driver in Kraken. They may have been on their best behavior so as not to embarrass Jake, Sweepstakes Assistant Chairman and former SigEp team member.

Spirit brought out their fleet with only a slight hiccup where a new driver got a little lost and went to the right of the monument.

Unfortunately the ominous clouds were not just there for dramatic effect, and rolls were called to an early end between 8:30-8:40 due to rain. But with no major delays or accidents, I would call this Saturday a success. Good work Sweepstakes! Hopefully, teams can squeeze a few more rolls in this upcoming weekend.

CMU Central MarComm was also out taking pictures and interviewing students to build up hype around the big Buggy 100 race.

Sweepstakes has also confirmed that the dumpsters and units on Hill 4 will be moved over, clearing up some space for buggies and pushers.

Now. For something new! Presenting the first installment of the RUMOR OF THE WEEK section.

Rumor of the week:

It looks like this year’s Sweepstakes committee may have gone over budget already and resorted to delaying rolls to mine for gold outside Phipps. I’m not sure who told them there was anything precious underneath the asphalt, but it seems their mining attempt with a pickaxe was unsuccessful. Guess those new Sweepstakes jackets will just have to wait.

Come back next week for Saturday & Sunday rolls, weather permitting, as we count down to Raceday 100!!


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Rolls Report Contributors:

Jasio S.
Ben M.
Ethan G.

100 Years of Buggy History – 1921-1923

Previous Articles: Intro and 1920

This week, 100 Years of Buggy History takes a look at the early 1920s: 1921-1923. It’s a period full of interesting designs and controversies, plus some rule changes as the students worked to make the sport endure. And…history was made, with the first ever women’s team competing against the boys, 55 years before women’s teams were welcomed more generally into Raceday.

1921

Raceday: Friday, May 13, 1921 at 10:30am

Sweepstakes Chair: Unknown

Race Results: (1) Iota Sigma Delta (Skeleton) (4:38), (2) Gamma Mu Epsilon (4:42), (3) Xi Sigma Upsilon (5:04)

Design Comp: (1) Delta Upsilon (Fish); (Honorable Mention) Sigma Nu (Toonerville Trolley)

Weather: “Ideal” – Morning clouds gave way to sunshine; temperature unknown.

The April 27, 1921 issue of The Tartan promoted Raceday 1921, taking place on the 2nd day of Campus Week, as the “funniest event of the program”, noting that “anyone who has a weak heart should be accompanied by an undertaker…No arrangements have been made to undertake or care for anyone but the racers.”  Among the drivers of the 18 teams competing were “some of the most infamous agitators of the human race”.  But aside from the humorous introduction to Raceday 1921, here’s what we know about the year:

  • Rule Changes – Teams Grow, Complexity Shrinks. The “rulebook” in 1921 again consisted of only 5 rules, but the 5 rules were different from 1920. Rules requiring buggies to have 4 wheels and 1 driver and 1 pusher at a time remained, as did the rule limiting participation to fraternities. But gone were the requirements to swap rear wheels and the ability to change places at any time, the weight limit had been lowered from 75 to 50 pounds, and teams grew from 2 to 4. With respect to team size and transition zones, the teams were essentially set up as 2 teams of 2 – Rather than having the pusher and driver swap places with each other, now the pusher and driver were each required to be replaced by a fresh pusher and driver for the final portion of the race, outside Machinery Hall (present-day Hill 3) to the finish line.
  • Crowds Gather. According to the May 14, 1921 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2,000 people headed to the Buggy course to watch the race.
  • Orgs. 18 teams competed in 1921. We don’t know all 18, but among the competitors were: (1) Beta, (2) DU, (3) Phi Epsilon Pi, (4) SAE, (5) SigNu, (6) Theta Xi, (7) Xi Sigma Upsilon, (8) Delta Epsilon Omega (XSU and DEO would merge in 1922 to become Delta Xi, which would become ATO in 1923), (9) Woodlawn Club, (10) Tau Gamma Phi (became DTD in 1923), (11) Kappa Sigma Rho, (12) Alpha Pi, (13) Iota Sigma Delta (became Alpha Sigma Phi in 1925), and (14) Gamma Mu Epsilon (which became Theta Tau in 1922, and went inactive in 1948 following a scholarship issue).
  • Pre-Race Incident – SigNu vs. US Army: Raceday got off to a bit of an inauspicious start.  After presenting the buggies for display and judging of the design competition, SigNu was nearly knocked out of the race when an army truck (which routinely roamed the campus in 1921) failed to stop as SigNu’s buggy was crossing in front of it.  Luckily, thanks to the audible gasps and screams of the crowd, SigNu was able to escape injury and the brothers left with minor scratches as they got away from the truck.
  • Racing Troubles for Many Orgs. The race itself was not the prettiest either; in fact, only half of the teams actually finished the race.  Tau Gamma Phi (DTD), who won the race in 1920, didn’t even make it to the present-day Hill 1, as they lost a wheel making the first turn of the race on to Tech Street.  Multiple other organizations crashed into them, and the “crashing of timber and the shrieking of the crews stilled the blood of the on-lookers…it was only by some strange kind of fate that the men received only scratches instead of serious injury.”  In addition, Beta’s and Alpha Pi’s buggies both broke down on the course and they dropped out of the race.
  • Major Crash. The worst incident came of the race came from SAE.  SAE was looking good early, and had a lead for a while, but while coming down the freeroll at a high rate of speed, the steering apparatus broke and threw the buggy off the road.  The buggy either hit the curb and tore off two wheels (per the Tartan) or smashed to pieces against a stone wall (per the CIT Alumnus).  Either way, both driver (Wilson) and pusher (Ted) were “hurled through the air” and after they landed, the Buggy landed on top of them “pinning them to this hard world.  And thus they remained until rescued.”
  • Race Results. Once SAE crashed, Iota Sigma Delta assumed the lead and never looked back. The full non-DNF finish order: (1) Iota Sigma Delta (Alpha Sig), (2) Gamma Mu Epsilon (Theta Tau), (3) Xi Sigma Upsilon (ATO), (4) Kappa Sigma Rho, (5) Phi Epsilon Pi, (6) SigNu, (7) Delta Epsilon Omega (ATO), (8) Woodlawn Club, and (9) DU.
    • ISD’s winning team was comprised of Arthur W. Hedgren, Edwin W. Olstolf, Leroy L. Byerly, and “Wilson”
    • GME’s 2nd place team consisted of M.W. Obenour, A.D. Swecker, W.J. Allen, and J.J. Pannek
  • Design. In 1921, not all of the Buggies were built for speed. Some were just creative, in an attempt to win the Design Competition. And it worked! The winner was DU’s green fish (see photo right), but other creative designs included SigNu’s replica of the Toonerville Trolley, a cartoon trolley that ran in newspapers from 1908-1955, and an unknown organization’s “elaborately decorated” rickshaw.

1921 – DU’s Fish Buggy in Action, published in the June 1921 CIT Alumnus

1922

Raceday: Friday, May 26, 1922 at 10:00am

Sweepstakes Chair: R.E. Hedlund

Race Results: (1 – TIE): SAE and PiKA (4:30); (3) Delta Mu

Design Comp: Sigma Nu (Pirate Ship)

Weather: Rain (0.75 inches fell in Pittsburgh that day); Temperature unknown.

Rain fell on Friday morning, but that wasn’t going to stop Buggy from making its third annual running.  1922 brought the first ever (but certainly not the last) major controversy in Buggy history, saw history made (and seemingly forgotten), and was the first time that Buggy had to deal with a common problem over the last 100 years – Crowd Control.

  • Course Under Construction. An article in the May 17, 1922 Tartan indicated that the Buggy course for 1922 was being constructed, though I assume that meant it would be under construction.  The winning bid for the construction came from Booth & Flinn, at a cost of $1 million, with various sources of materials.  The article notes that the bid seems a little high, “but when you figure that our boys will make about 75[mph] on the straightway and even 90 on the turns you’ll realize that it is necessary that we have a first class road bed.”  The course at the time was, at least in part, a stone road, so construction is certainly possible; but between the speed, the timing, and the cost, something about this article seemed a little odd.
  • Design Comp. The Design Competition trophy went to Sigma Nu, who entered their Pirate Ship, captained by Cy Comfort (see photo right).
Cy Comfort and his Pirate Brig – Published in the June 1922 CIT Alumnus
  • Getting on the Course is Easy; Completing it isn’t. Buggy had a record 20 entrants in 1922. But while many entered, few finished. The course ended up “lined with nuts, bolts, wheels, and overturned” buggies. One example was DU’s “Grasshopper” Buggy.  DU was a little too “frisky” as it rounded the first turn onto the present-day Hill 1, and it took a jump over the curb, knocking it out of the race.
  • History…or Herstory. One of the 20 entrants in 1922 made history…or should we say herstory?  Women’s racing didn’t officially begin until 1979, but women racing began in 1922, when the Alpha Kappa Psi sorority entered a buggy on Raceday!  Unfortunately, they weren’t able to finish the race without incident either, as they wrecked on the course (it’s unclear if they crossed the finish line).
  • Leader goes down. The race itself looked like it was going to be a classic battle between SAE and SigEp (Sigma Epsilon Phi, which became Sigma Phi Epsilon in 1925).  SigEp, with Buggy #1 (buggies were given numbers back then), led early on, but at the top of present-day Hill 2, SAE caught up to SigEp.  In the freeroll, SigEp took the lead back and was ahead by 100 feet when suddenly SigEp lost one of their rear tires, enabling SAE and several others to pass.
  • Controversial Finish. The first major controversy in Buggy history came as the teams approached the finish line.  PiKA had finally caught up to SAE as they approached the straightaway to the finish line.  But there were so many spectators around the finish line that they crowded the course, leaving just a narrow pathway down the middle of the road that was only wide enough for one Buggy. The two Buggies both aimed for the single lane and collided, ultimately crossing the finish line together, radiator-to-radiator.  Due to the size of the crowd and the spectators running to the finish line, the judges were unable to see which buggy actually crossed the finish line first. Ultimately, Sweepstakes decided, for the first and only time in Buggy History, to declare race a tie, awarding a trophy to both teams. But they only had 1 trophy available to present to the winner!.  So, according to a letter to the editor from R. E. Hedlund in 1956, he was given another $10 by the Campus Week Committee to go out and buy an additional trophy.

1923

Raceday: Friday, May 25, 1923 at 10:00am

Sweepstakes Committee: H.D. Sonnemann (Chair), W.A. Anderson, D.R. Williams, W.B. Cunningham

Race Results: (1) KapSig (#19), (2) Theta Xi (#8), (3) SAE (#3), (4) Delta Xi (#10)

Design Comp: Delta Xi (Winner); SAE and KapSig (Honorable Mention)

Weather: Sunny; 85 Degrees (Low of 47)

“The fourth annual death-defying, nerve-thrilling, hair-raising, stupendous, extraordinary event of all events” took place in 1923.  The controversy of 1922 resulted in some new rules for 1923 to avoid the same type of situation, and instead of having just 1 pusher (or 2 pushers/2 drivers), the teams were expanded to 4 pushers.  But the real name of the game in 1923?  Wheel technology.

  • New Rules – More Pushers, Fewer Athletes, Less Buggy Variety. There were a few complaints about past years that led to new rules in 1923.  One was based on the 1922 controversy – Sweepstakes needed a way to keep spectators off of the course.  Another was around the Design Competition – certain organizations were creating clever looking designs (such as the prior Design Comp winners, the Fish and the Pirate Ship) that were not feasible as racing competitors.  Furthermore, the varsity track coach (Coach Beeler) was concerned that running over stone roads could injure his athletes, so track athletes were prohibited from pushing. And lastly, it turns out that pushers get tired and breaking up the course into smaller segments is more effective (also, the minimum buggy weight was increased to 60 pounds).  The new rules were:
    1. Each team now consists of 1 driver and 4 pushers
    2. There is 1 pusher at a time, and the pushers change in designated transition zones
    3. No one receiving a letter in track or cross-country is eligible to push
    4. “Freak” buggies, such as fish, chariots, cigars, grasshoppers, and ships are not eligible for Design Competition
    5. Any spectator on the course while the race is being run will cause his fraternity to be DQ’d
  • Course adds Transition Zones. Because the race now incorporated 4 pushers with set transition zones, those transitions needed to be determined.  Thus, the course changed slightly and the transition zones were demarcated (see photo at right, from 1924, though it applied only in 1923).
1923 Course Map (published in the 05-08-1924 Tartan)
  • Crowd Control. Another change to the 1923 course was that the finishing stretch of the race would be roped off, to further prevent spectators from crowding the field and obstructing the view of the judges.
  • Practice Incident. Practices began at least a few weeks before Raceday, and our first known practice accident was reported on May 2, 1923.  We don’t know which organization, or where it occurred, but “the demolished appearance of the racer, which was hauled back to its garage by means of a Ford, certainly made an impression of disaster.”
  • Race Results. 16 Buggies were entered in 1923, but the race was really a battle of the top 3.  SAE started the race out in front, and led going into the first turn (present day Hill 1).  The gap closed in the freeroll, and by the time they reached the final transition (from Pusher 3 to Pusher 4), SAE, Theta Xi, and KapSig were all bunched together.  From there, KapSig’s final pusher, D.V. Beeder, took over and grabbed the lead for good, powering KapSig to victory.  The winning KapSig team consisted of E.R. Roller (Driver), H.C. Wurtenberger, P.A. Morrison, W.D. Shelton, and D.V. Beeder (Pushers).
  • Wheel Technology. It turns out that the key to KapSig’s success may have been wheel technology.  KapSig reached out to S.A. Pickering, a Pittsburgh-based harness racing horse owner, and got him to lend them 4 wheels from the wagon of his harness horse, Dr. Strong.  Those wheels were not just successful on the harness track; they guided KapSig to Buggy victory.
1923 First Turn (onto present-day Hill 1)
1923 – Beta
First turn of the race (from the CFA Parking Lot onto Present-Day Hill 1) in 1922, courtesy of the CMU Archives (for an explanation of how we identified this, see the comments on the photo)
1923 Winning Buggy – KapSig
1922 Starting line(?), published in the 05-16-1923 Tartan

100 Years of Buggy History – Intro and 1920

Introduction

For those of you who haven’t been refreshing this site every 5 minutes since Raceday 2019 ended, this year is the 100th anniversary of Buggy at Carnegie Mellon!  This year’s Raceday, which we are affectionately calling “Buggy 100” (#Buggy100), takes place on April 16-18, 2020, so make sure you’ve got the dates marked on your calendar.

As part of our big push to celebrate the Buggy Centennial this year, we are diving extra deep into our history.  While the “History” tab of our site may give you the winners and their times, this year we wanted to take a more in depth look at the past 100 years of Buggy History at Carnegie Mellon. So with that said, we are introducing the “100 Years of Buggy History” series, which will run weekly (roughly) on the cmubuggy.org site.  We’ll not only give you winners and times, but where possible, we’ll go into more detail about each year of Buggy.  That includes information about Raceday – the weather, the crowds, the heats, the incidents, and the excitement – as well as any other interesting Buggy-related storylines that popped up over the course of the school year.  We’ll also be loading up these posts with whatever photos, videos or other juicy gossip we can get our hands on from each of those years.

I doubt any of you were around for the early years (someone who participated in 1920 would be 117 years old today, and it turns out that as of today, the oldest living person is only 116).  But if you have any interesting stories from the years of Buggy that you were around for, or if you know people (especially people like parents or grandparents, who may have participated in the early years) who have told you stories from their day, please let us know – you can email me at bryan.arsham@cmubuggy.org!  We’d love to include that stuff.

The information that we put into this series is sourced from whatever records that we can get our hands on from the various years.  Other than any stories we get from you all, the vast majority of this information comes from the excellent archives of the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Digital Collections, with a significant percentage coming from The Tartan (other sources include the Thistle, the CIT Alumnus, and various Pittsburgh-area newspapers).  But with that comes a couple of caveats, that I wanted to get out of the way now. 

  1. The digital archives are not 100% complete, and coverage of Buggy was better in some years than others.  For example, the digital archives are unfortunately missing 1937 (our current white whale), so we have very little information on that year, whereas the Tartan in 1976 essentially included weekly Rolls Reports, so we have a ton of information from that year. 
  2. We weren’t around for a lot of these years, so if something was printed in our main sources incorrectly, or was misleading, we may not know.  You might be surprised to find out that over the past 100 years, the reporting on buggy has not always been the most accurate! Take, for example, the 2019 Tartan article on Raceday, titled “SDC Wins Buggy For Second Year In A Row”, which isn’t technically wrong, but ignored that it was SDC’s third consecutive Women’s victory, and record eighth consecutive Men’s victory.  Therefore, if we have any indication that a fact was incorrect (either it conflicts with something in our historical database, or it conflicts with another written report), we are either ignoring that piece of information or will call out the conflict in our post. Otherwise, for purposes of this series, we are accepting the written reports as true. 

The number of years covered in each post will vary a bit based on how much information we have about the given year, but as of now, the plan is that most posts will cover roughly 5 years (give or take).  We will also use today’s terminology (for example: CMU, rather than CIT, to refer to the school) as appropriate to make the history as understandable as possible for today’s readers.

So without further ado, let’s kick off the 100 Years of Buggy History series with the origins of Buggy: 1920.

1920

Raceday: May 14, 1920

Sweepstakes Chair: R.N. Crosby

Race Winner: Tau Gamma Phi (which became DTD)

Design Comp Winner: Sigma Nu

Weather: Sun was shining; temperature unknown

1920 used to be our White Whale.  We knew that Buggy began in 1920, but the results, and information about the races, were lost to history.  That is, until our own BAA Vice President Jeremy Tuttle went digging a little more, and discovered the June 1920 CIT Alumnus.  The CIT Alumnus was a (mostly) bimonthly alumni newsletter published until roughly 1982, and although it did not regularly cover Buggy, there were some important historical references in those early years.  So, what do we know about 1920 – the first year of Buggy?

  • “The greatest, wildest, jazziest, most blood-curdling, hair-raising, breath-stopping, shirt-tearing event in Tech annals” got its start at Carnegie Mellon on April 21, 1920, with an announcement in The Tartan about the Interfraternity Motor Sweepstakes taking place during Campus Week.
  • The very first Raceday had only 5 rules (compared to today’s 100+ page rulebook):
    1. All buggies must be equipped with 4 wheels
    2. The crew of each team will consist of 2 men – a driver and a pusher – who may change places at any time
    3. The minimum weight of the buggy is 75 pounds
    4. The rear wheels of each buggy must be interchangeable, and during the race each buggy will be required to pit and swap the left rear and right rear wheels
    5. Only 1 man on each team may have his feet on the ground at 1 time, except in the pit.
  • 10 fraternities entered the inaugural race.  We don’t know which 10 (there were 14 National and Local Fraternities on campus in 1920), but 5 are confirmed: Sigma Nu, Sigma Rho (which became Beta Theta Pi in the afternoon following Raceday 1920), Theta Xi, Tau Gamma Phi (which would become DTD in 1923), and Kappa Sigma Rho (which became Lambda Chi Alpha in 1929, and went dormant in 1935).  Others believed to be present in 1920, based on participation in later years (but no confirmations of 1920 participation), include Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Delta Upsilon.
  • The course was a little different than today.  It began outside the Design school (CFA), travelled towards Margaret Morrison Hall, went up Tech Street, down through Schenley Park (Schenley Drive), and then turned back on to campus at Machinery Hall (the Chute).  Outside Machinery Hall, the buggies would pit and the rear wheels would be swapped.  The buggy would then continue past the College of Industries, and end back where it started outside the Design school. A rough estimate of the course is shown on the right.

Map Showing the Rough Outline of the Buggy Course from 1920

  • We don’t have a ton of information about the race itself.  What we do know is that the race was won by Tau Gamma Phi, and that they were awarded a trophy.  In second place was Sigma Nu, while both Beta Theta Pi and Theta Xi saw their buggies break down during the race.
  • Although SigNu didn’t win the race, they did win the very first Design Competition.  The SigNu buggy was a “chariot built around a bicycle”, while the 2-man team dressed as charioteers.  From the description, I suspect that SigNu is Buggy #1 in the photo to the right.
  • Not all of the buggies were designed with speed in mind.  One fraternity “used their ingenuity” to use a bathtub on wheels (which I suspect is Buggy #2 in the photo to the right).  Reports are that the buggy gave a very realistic rolling motion when in action.

Starting Line from the June 1920 CIT Alumnus

  • Wheel technology has always been on the forefront of the buggy builder’s mind, and that was no different in 1920 – the Carnegie Alumnus reports that wheel technology included wire wheels, wooden wheels, bicycle wheels, and even roller skates.
  • Lastly, I have to commend the writers of the various Tartan articles from 1920.  The language used back then was very colorful and made for an enjoyable reading experience.  I’ll give some examples of that language coming up next week, as we move forward in the 1920s.

New Officers for the 19-21 Term

Ballots have been counted and we are excited to announce our new officers for the 2019-2021 term!

Communications Officer – Linna Griffin

Reporting Officer – Jasio Santillan

Webmaster – Krishan Taylor

President – Michael Darcy

Please help us welcome in these new officers as we start transitioning and ramping into some summer projects and of course dive deep into planning for Buggy 100!