Assuming there’s no blizzard (none on the horizon), enough teams get capes done (they are scheduling now), and the weather stays mild (current forecast: partly cloudy and low 30’s), we could be 5 days from starting another season of spring freerolls!
To set the mood, I’ve included a slightly obfuscated picture from exactly 8 years ago today, during my last build, Blackjack.
Here’s what’s going on the last days of the off-season …
Apex absorbs Pioneers
The newest of the new upstart teams has been working the buggy social network as much as any group of freshmen with no buggy experience could hope to do and it’s recently paid off to some degree. Apex [a group which started as some enthusiastic residents of The Residence on 5th (hence the original team name, “Rez Buggy”)] is taking over Pioneers’ assets and becoming a legit independent. I can’t imagine that taking over where Pioneers left off was a huge head start, but it’s certainly better than working out of your dorm room. They’ve got the ancient and decrepit Camo to start off with which is a tough start compared to DeltaForce’s experience with
PiRho Perun, but what doesn’t kill them (and it won’t) will make them stronger. Follow along @apexbuggy and offer some support and tips.
PiKA is officially allowed to participate
I don’t think I knew this was up in the air, but apparently it was just recently officially determined that PiKA would be allowed to roll this spring. That’s great to hear. I am very curious to see what size operation they attempt to operate from their dispersed, off-campus setup. I see a Carson Palmer parallel. Performing well the last couple of years, but not quite to their glory-day standards, forced to sit out the first half of the season and kind of pissed about it, but not without the fire to get back into it. Then getting the chance to be back in and forcing some critics to admit they’ve still got it, but in the end, it takes time to adapt to the new scene and you finish .500. Except, I bet they’ll even do better than finish .500.
I attempted this medium-difficulty prediction task back in 2009 and it was a fun exercise to get my head back in the game, so let’s try it again.
- AEPi – After a successful build in ’09 and a cool, but apparently flawed ’10 effort, AEPi focused on Robobuggy last year which sadly never got to see the course because of the weather. They were only out intermittently this fall so I’m thinking they’re short on energy to build, but I’d love to be wrong.
- Apex – They’ve got their hands full renovating Camo and learning how to do buggy. They’ve been talking about builds since day 1 though, so they might get something of their own finished up over the summer.
- CIA – Currently on a 3 year build streak and having made huge strides in the process, CIA is a good bet for a new buggy again in ’12. After Ascension’s stunning good looks and design comp win, the question is how creative they’ll get. I see a design based on the same reverse tryke with the large rear wheel paradigm, but with something interesting to set it apart. Hey, I’ve got an idea: a pushbar that folds down flat into the shell!
- DeltaForce – Interesting case because the loaned-from-KDR Moby Dick (
PiRhoPerun) will serve them well enough to take the pressure off of the mechanics for now. Things went so smoothly in the fall, they’ll likely choose to just cruise through and enjoy making it to their first raceday. Hopefully they have a build on their minds though since their only steed is just a loaner.
- Fringe – A 15 year streak is basically infinite in the collective minds of college students, so a new Fringe buggy is probably a safe assumption. Last year’s Bonsai broke what might have been a bit of a plateau for Fringe and won them the race. There has been some turnover though with head mechanic Mackin taking the Safety Chair role, so we’ll have to see whether they look to replicate their winner or innovate further while they’ve got a bit of a lead on the competition.
- KapSig – When they showed up on the course for the first time with their own new buggy – Apache – I was very impressed. It’s been a bit of a rocky road at times since then, but that’s to be expected. Apache and KapSig weren’t out for the last 4 weekends of rolls in the fall so I’m a little worried about them. I hope very much that they decided to spend their time building a worthy successor to Apache, but I’m only giving even odds on that.
- PiKA – I would guess that the focus is on getting back on the course, bolstering morale and membership, and testing the waters on how effective they can be without a house. It might actually be useful to take another semester with their new standard tryke – Raptor – and get more comfortable putting it head to head with Chimera and deciding which direction they want to go next.
- SDC – I don’t think I can reasonably bet against a new standard tryke in a solid color with a mirrored windshield and few other distinguishing external features. The question is whether they can figure out how to do something new to top their 3-year A-teamer, Malice.
- SigEp – Yeah, they’ll build. They’ve built 4 years in a row now, and they’ve been steadily getting more competitive, getting mentioned in the top tier at times. Mamba (2011) rolled A team and got them the 5th fastest time (before failing its drop test), but even with that success I always feel like they’re just almost on the verge of a real jump in build quality. You know how 10 years ago Hyundai and Kia were pretty questionable brands and then suddenly they made the leap and got totally legit and you could recommend their reliable cars to your budget-conscious family members? I feel like SigEp is going to have that year … maybe this year, but definitely someday. Correction: Mamba rolled Men’s B and Women’s A last year.
- SigNu – Building, for SigNu, is not something you rush into willy-nilly. Krait will only be 3 years old and is a plenty good buggy to keep them going. They barely made it out this fall, so I hope they can rally the troops and be a regular presence.
- Spirit – I was pretty surprised when they came out with a new buggy last year, ‘Zuke. I can’t decide if that makes it more or less likely that they’ll build again this year. Their tireless wheel testing (haha, pun was completely accidental) shows they’ve probably got the energy and funds to build, but two in a row would be quite the turnaround after a 7 year gap. They’ve been committed to small changes on the only design Spirit has ever really known, but it’s been giving them a lot of trouble in the last few years. Can you imagine a world in which Spirit came out with a reverse tryke? Not going to happen, but it’s a fun thought.