With precipitation on 7 of the last 10 days and temperatures swinging from the 20s to the 60s faster than you can add or remove layers, it’s hard to know what to expect, but buggy demonstrated some toughness and got in two solid days this weekend. Saturday was pretty enjoyable with lots of sun and no wind making it more comfortable than the thermometers (or smartphones) were indicating. Sunday was less pleasant and teams seemed worn out from it. Snow came and went a few times during Sunday but never stuck to the ground enough to warrant Sweepstakes to cancel although Fringe, SDC, and PiKA (I think) all scratched for the day before 9.
(Sweepstakes hasn’t updated their roll-count spreadsheet, which – it is now revealed – I depend on since my memory isn’t up to the task. So we’ll call this an approximate account of things until they get that updated)
|#18, Ascension, Freyja, Firebird
|#18, Ascension, Firebird, Quasar
|Bonsai, Borealis, Bedlam, Banyan
|Bonsai, Borealis, Bedlam
|Bane, Avarice, Malice
|Bane, Avarice, Malice
|Mamba, Peregrine, Barracuda
|Zuke, Seraph, Fuko
|Zuke, Seraph, Fuko
- Fringe had first roll on Saturday and the first buggy I saw coming down the hill was covered in pajamas and had “NBXII” (New buggy ’12) taped on the side. It was rolling surprisingly fast and smoothly for a brand new buggy, but given how similar it looked to their recent designs, that didn’t raise any red flags for me. At the top of the hill I saw other teams doing the usual neck-craning you see around a new build from a top team. The pictures of it have also been the most viewed since they were posted on Saturday. Funny thing was, they only rolled it twice and then the 4th buggy in the lineup was Banyan instead. Yeah, funny thing indeed. They didn’t have a build done, they were just screwing with everyone by covering Banyan in pajamas. They got me.
- The right rear wheel on Spirit’s Seraph flew off in dramatic fashion right after a hill 2 shove on Sunday. They were doing a pass test with Seraph doing the passing, and they had a monster of a hill 2 pusher on the job. He took it up and over the hill as fast as I’ve seen in a while, but the speed didn’t last long. Just after the shove, the right rear wheel flew off and the buggy slid through a 180 while it ground to a halt with a trail of orange sparks flying from the axle on pavement. As far as I could tell, neither the wheel nor stub nor axle failed meaning there was likely operator error on the part of whoever was attaching the wheels. I’m guessing there was no nut on the end of the stub, or if there was it never had a wrench on it. Seraph was apparently no worse for wear though as Spirit had it loaded and ready for the next roll. Sweepstakes denied them that roll, but spot-safetied it and it got around the course the next time through.
- Apex had Camo rolling … ok again on Saturday. The externally visible improvement was the addition of a duct-tape suspension cable from the tail to the pushbar which apparently kept the non-structural and droopy tail from dragging on the ground. On their 4th roll the driver took a line on hill 5 towards the super-treacherous right side and rolled over some Kabul-quality pavement. While working on things Saturday afternoon, the mechanics discovered cracked welds in major structural components of the frame and pronounced Camo dead (again (no really, it’s for real this time)). That left the brand new team without a buggy again and wondering if they could get a build done before raceday (unlikely) or if they might not make it after all their efforts. Good news rumors are that they might have a line on another loaner to get them back on the course.
- SigEp’s Peregrine had the only spin of the weekend on Saturday but I wasn’t near-by and nobody I talked to had much to say about it. Man, even when SigEp does something exciting I can’t come up with things to write about them. It’s starting to look like my fault. Mamba was out after not rolling at the end of last semester or the first weekend of the spring.
- Fringe put on an exciting driving display on Saturday when Borealis’ front hatch started bouncing around late in the chute so she came to a slow stop. The stop flags came out and Banyan stopped cleanly right near the chute flag. Bedlam (coming down last) was not deterred however and did an exciting slalom around her stopped comrades. All three buggies were pushed back up the hill while my blood pressure slowly receded. I heard that CIA had something similar on Sunday, but I didn’t catch that one because I was too cold and lethargic to walk down to the chute.
- SDC and Spirit were both doing more driver’s-perspective filming over the weekend. I don’t suppose either of them would like to share some of that for everyone to see?
- Pika and Spirit on both rolling on purple compounds now. I mentioned catching a glimpse of PiKA’s purple last week, but Spirit joined the purple club with some cool new ones on Saturday. The profiles are totally different, so there’s no reason to think there is anything more than superficial similarity. Spirits are actually a pretty interesting parabolic cross-section and it seems to be working well for them with 3 days now of smooth rolls (excluding cases where the wheel was not firmly connected to the buggy).
- PiKA brought out our dear old friend Zeus on both days, and left the 8-year-younger Chimera in the garage. It was going just as fast and rolling with the new purple compound so it’s not as if they were just using it as a trainer buggy for a new driver or anything. It would be pretty interesting if neither buggy from the Chimera / Nemesis generation were on the course this raceday given how big a deal they were when they were new.
- CIA and PiKA were both set up on the Tepper patio again this weekend, but seemed to be getting along better as far as I could tell.
- It freaks me out when a dude’s voice comes from inside a buggy as is the case with SigNu’s driver, Mike. There have been more male drivers in recent years than we usually remember, but I bet it’s been quite a while since an organization had no female drivers.
- DeltaForce had a funny moment when radio club asked Sweepstakes if everything was normal because Perun had passed all the checkpoints, but nobody had seen a second buggy or a follow car. Sweepstakes looked over to the top of the hill, and there was DeltaForce’s follow car with two people in it, ready to go. They claimed they had been watching carefully for their cue but somehow missed it going by. They offered to try to catch up, but Perun was already in sight on hill 5.
- With only six weeks until raceday, and only one new buggy on the course, is it time to update the over-under we set at 5.5 at the end of January? CIA was predicted and they delivered. AEPi, Apex, DeltaForce, KapSig, and SigNu were all pretty unlikely, and I’d downgrade them all to not-gonna-happen. I was bearish but unsure on PiKA and Spirit, but now I’m more confident in both cases. Spirit has wheel projects to keep them busy, and PiKA is just adapting and coping with the status quo. I had Fringe as a sure-bet and that hasn’t changed, they’ve been bringing their builds out later and later in recent years. SDC and SigEp are the biggest question marks remaining. SigEp’s recent builds have come out in mid or late March so I’m betting on seeing something from them after spring break. SDC’s builds in recent years have been done very early in the spring, so I’m starting to wonder if they are skipping this year or working on something more complex and time consuming than they have in the past. I’d say Zatch is feeling good having bet the under while my line of 5.5 and trophymursky’s bet on the over are starting to look quite optimistic.
Next weekend is the beginning of spring break, so it’s unlikely rolls will happen, but that’s not definite until chairmen’s meeting happens tonight. Check our front page for the latest status on rolls and look for some non-rolls report content we’re working on to keep things exciting in the mean time.