First day of rolls? (take 2) AND build forecast

Sweepstakes is gearing up for another try at the first weekend of rolls, last week’s being thwarted by colder than desired temperatures.  So far, things aren’t looking too optimistic.  Last week, the 7am temperatures were 27 and 24 F which was cold enough to cancel things.  This weekend the 7am forecasts are 20 and 20 F.  Don’t worry, there is still plenty of time to improve on last year’s record-settingly late first day of rolls, March 23rd.

Update : Rolls are officially canceled for Saturday Feb 20th.  Too cold!
Update : Rolls are officially canceled for Sunday Feb 21st.  Too cold and snowy.

On the bright side, getting started a bit later probably gives teams more uninterrupted time to finish working on the new class of 2009 buggies.  So while we bide our time, lets think about what we’re likely to see on the course this year (in order of finishes in last year’s men’s races).

  • PiKA : hasn’t missed a build year since 2003.  Their last 6 have represented an exceptionally experimental stretch with relatively big changes in shell shape and construction each year.  With the success Chimera had last year, I would be surprised if we don’t see a move towards more incremental improvements this year.
  • SDC : In recent years, SDC has broken the general rule that the most successful teams build constantly.  With only one buggy (Envy) out the door from the current generation of mechanics (since ’04), they must be cooking something big. The big question is whether they’ll go back to the standard trike design that has worked so well for them or build a second reverse and fall into line with the other elite teams.  I’m betting they’ll continue specializing in small, primary-colored standards.
  • Fringe : With the longest build streak in the sport dating back to 1998, you can bet they’ll be out with something new.  Last year’s Bristol seemed to be a riskier design than the previous few years which could signal a round of experimental builds.  On the other hand, the 8 year old Brazen was out again in the fall, so the fleet may be in need of another dependable workhorse.  Shell shapes have indicated a growing concern with aero, so expect sleek either way.
  • Spirit : The twins Kingpin and Seraph are 5 and 7 years old already, but it seems unlikely that a new buggy will get out the door this year.  Spirit was in the bottom half of orgs by number of rolls this fall, and even closer to the bottom in freeroll times, both of which indicate manpower is lacking.   Luckily the buggies they have aren’t getting any slower, and the surprise 4th place finisher last year will undoubtedly come out with another edition of attention stealing paint jobs at design comp.
  • KDR : The current leadership is mostly newer to buggy than their most recent build Perun (’07), but last years’ 5th place finish should have provided enough energy to at least be shooting for a build again this year.  Always on the doorstep of being competitive for the top spots, a successful build could go a long way.  Look for a familiar design with improving craftsmanship in the shell construction.  Hopefully they’ll pick out their super-clever p-name quickly enough to make it out to more than a week of rolls.
  • SigEp : Last year’s Messiah was one of the more radical designs the course has seen in years.  Rolling on a set of tiny skate wheels, it fared better than many thought at first.  I’m betting that Messiah wasn’t enough of a success to warrant another crazy skate buggy, but that the fact they can pull off such a design means they’ve got the skills to do something simpler well enough to give the other up-and-comers a real run for their money.
  • SN : Jubatus (’98)  … Skua (’04) … get ready for 2010, odds are there’s a new buggy 83% done.
  • CIA : Rumors are that a build is in the works in buggy’s friendliest garage.  Will this be the org’s first monocoque?  They’ve said they were modernizing for years, but the frame habit is a tough one to break.  Two things may make this year different.  The cross pollination with a Pioneers org on life support may have availed them of a few up-close practical clues.  The fact that they’ve been building up to this since Firebird (’04) should have allowed plenty of trial and error time for new methods.  Still, any org that has the fortitude to stick with the retractable pushbar through thick and thin can do one more build the classic way.
  • Pioneers : Survival is the first priority.
  • AEPi : small, young orgs are in a tricky situation where a build is on the borderline of the financial and human resouces available, but its also the key to growing and moving forward.  I wouldn’t hold it against them if they didn’t build this year, but then again, it wouldn’t take much of a build to make something faster than good ole’ Camo.
  • PhiKap : one of the five orgs (CIA, Beta, Spirit, and SN being the others) that last built in 2004, PhiKap should be focusing on how to get more out of Svengali, and how not to DQ once they do.  One better-than-expected raceday could get the house behind a resurgance and a build next year.
  • SAE : Rubicon rolls well enough that there’s no pressure to build during SAE’s first year back in buggy.  Their leadership seems enthusiastic and proactive enough that they might have something in the works already, but there’s not enough recent history in the house to pull it off this quickly.
  • Beta : Let’s see them make it to raceday first, and then we’ll talk about building.

That’s got to be enough unsubstantiated opinion to incite some response and discussion.  Let’s take that over to the forum so people don’t have to check two sections of the site.