Rolls Report: Nov 16 – End of Fall Season

Congrats to all the teams that made it through the season. Rolls are all over until the spring, so it’s time for you all to finish up that work you’ve been putting off. No not school work, those new buggies that you’ve been planning on building! Stories are already flying around and I for one can’t wait to see what comes out next spring.

Unfortunately, we only had one day this weekend with Sunday getting a huge amount of rain early in the morning. But that’s not to say we were without an exciting day of rolls on Saturday, sadly, by no fault of the teams themselves. We had nearly every team out this weekend as a few of the usual no-shows showed their faces on what was a surprisingly nice morning.

In Attendance 

Org Saturday
Apex Phoenix
CIA Ascension, Orca, Freyja
Fringe Beacon, Bissa, Bedlam, Banyan
PiKA Banshee
SAE Lucy, Rubicon
SDC Vice, Malice, Avarice, Psychosis, Rage
SigEp Barracuda, Pandora
SigNu Bungarus Krait
Spirit Kingpin II, Zuke, Seraph, Fuko

Observations (Saturday Gallery)

  • AEPi – Didn’t make it out, it wasn’t Sunday. We here at BAA HQ have done the research and expect more of the same next semester.
  • Apex – The youngest org on the course managed to qualify all 5 of their drivers for the fall, and has even started experimenting with new wheels. That in and of itself is impressive for any team going on three years. What’s more impressive is that they’ve also started their second build and are well on their way to having a second buggy done and rolling for the spring semester with everyone else. Already rolling as fast as some second tier teams, they are only going to improve as we get closer to April.
  • CIA – This semester seems to show that CIA might be leveling off from their rapid growth over the last few years. Complaints of being short handed and the inability to roll every buggy every roll is something we haven’t heard or seen from them in a few years, but that’s a hard thing to keep up as any veteran team should know. The struggle has also has been showing in their roll times, and even though it has been cold, the kids of CIA need to figure something out if they want to be as competitive as they were last year.
  • Fringe – Fighting it out for the top freerolls this semester, Fringe can still claim the smoothest rolling buggy award in my book. Each buggy has a distnict sound,  Each Org has their own similarities, Fringe is quiet. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to snag the fastest roll for a couple weekends, which will likely mean nothing come April, but for now they have some ground to make up if they want to claim the title back.
  • PiKA – Now that it’s been a couple years since their move off campus, PiKA seems to be back in the groove a bit with a blazingly fast Banshee who is right up there competing in those top tier times. They were also only one of two orgs doing full Hill One’s on Saturday. That early practice might help them out, but only time will tell. Their next season is a bit of a mystery, but all signs are pointing to this trend continuing and if they are able to pin down what size wheels they want to use, we will have a very exciting raceday.
  • SAE – Finally showing their faces again, Lucy and Rubicon made it back to the course this past weekend… for all of 2 rolls. Apparently 2 rolls were all they wanted leaving them with plenty to make up in the spring. Rubicon seemed to be sporting the new convertible style giving the driver a little added air flow. With only a day and a quarter of rolls under their belt for the semester, little is known about their plans for next season. Hopefully we can expect them to make it to Raceday, but right now that’s a question we can’t definitively answer.
  • SDC – For the second weekend in a row, they claim the only incident of the weekend as Avarice over corrected in the chute and slid sideways into the bales. The driver was fine and rolls were able to continue with the extraction happening off the course. Despite these small issues, SDC is still the current king of the course in about as many aspects as we can measure. They are the current Champs two years running, this semester they have the most rolls and most of those are the fastest of the season. Some teams may claim to love buggy, but these guys apparently own it.  With such a strong fall semester, we can only expect this trend to continue in the spring as they duke it out with Fringe and PiKA for the top Freeroll times.
  • SigEp – The new top frat as of last year has laid in wait this semester and hasn’t pushed the limits on anything, at least not on anything we can see. Their times haven’t been where they need to be if they want to compete with last years time, but we know that they like to wait until the last minute to show their hand. This strategy might work well to make you look like you know what you were doing all along, but it also has the highest chance of biting you in the ass if your pushers or driver are not prepared for the sudden increase in speed.
  • SigNu – Managing to stick around for their second whole day of rolls, SigNu looks like they’re doing just fine. In fact, if you hadn’t come to any days of rolls beforehand, you would’ve guessed that they’ve been rolling all year like it’s no big deal. This is a good sign going into next season and they might be able to reclaim a little of what they’ve lost from several years ago.
  • Spirit – Now that we’ve reached the send of the semester, it seems as though Spirit has conquered their spinning issues for the most part. On top of that, their freeroll times have been incredibly competitive. Even though they haven’t been getting the best rollouts, their strong push team might be able to close the gap and put them in a great place. Maybe this time around they’ll not try and reroll their time on worn out pushers. EDIT: As the only other team to be doing the front hills this semester besides PiKA’s one day stint, they’re starting ahead come next season.
  • CARS! – What was far more notable than some probably inconsequential freeroll times, were the three cars that tried to get on the course, two of which succeeded and were stopped in the chute. The first only crashed into the outer barricade breaking it in half right next to the cop who was standing guard. This mild inconvenience became a larger issue; in the time it took the cop to write a ticket for the first car, a second whizzed by and swerved around the inner barricade. The small car was only stopped as several chute dwellers and flaggers ran out and surrounded the car. The driver claimed she was just trying to get through the park. As she got corralled into the phipps driveway, the now very pissed officer raged his way across the bridge and gave her a stern talking to, as well as a VERY pricy ticket. The second car to make it on the course was a white, unmarked van who managed to slip in off hill 6 right behind someone’s follow car. From the chute, this almost seemed planned until it followed the correct rules of the road and split around the monument. Watching the trajectory, if Sweepstakes hadn’t managed to stop them, a collision would have been inevitable which would have been disastrous for the driver. Fortunately, The safety chair was hot on their trail and managed to blare the horn and nearly pin them on the inside of the monument. With all these cars on the course, it’s hard to NOT see why barricaders are SO important and why they need to be awake and attentive.


My phone was having some issues connecting to ustream on Saturday, so instead of a livesteam, we recorded rolls with a flipcam from the chute. I’ll be editing the video and putting it up hopefully before the end of the semester. Unfortunately, the quality is awful and there wasn’t always someone manning the camera, but it still managed to catch the whole day, so the interesting bits will be going up on our youtube when I get around to them.

Freeroll Times

Thanks to the donations over the years from people like you, the BAA’s new GoPro cameras worked beautifully and we are able to accurately record times from Crosswalk to hill 3. Since there’s a bit of a lack of manpower for the time being, the times for the last couple weekends of rolls will be coming out over the next week or two. The good news is, we now have a good system that is reasonably reliable with 0 drift in times over the course of the morning. It was suggested that we could add a time marking at the stop sign or the finish line, and if we find some extra help, we will definitely look into that (If you think you could help, or know someone that might be willing, send us an email at

20 thoughts on “Rolls Report: Nov 16 – End of Fall Season”

  • it really is time to kill the follow car and work on better ways to seal off the course. A few more bales of hay strategically placed would make it even more obvious to an approaching driver that something is up. Consider equipping the person guarding the barricade with a hand held “stop” sign like you would see during road construction.

    • If my memory serves me right, the follow car(s) were between the intruding car and the buggies both times a car made it onto the course, so I’m not sure why these events in particular are having you call for the end of the follow car.

      But yeah, the course does need a more proper way of being sealed off. Im personally a fan of spike strips, but some neon cones wouldn’t hurt.

  • The follow cars did naught to help the situation and possibly blocked the offending car from seeing the buggies they were closing in upon.

    Also the transition and chute flaggers and anyone else paying attention were expecting a follow car so they thought nothing was up when their follow car came into view ( hiding the offender) . without the follow car, any car on the street would be an intruder and the process of stopping them would begin as soon as they started rolling. it is not perfect but it is better and eliminates a big threat (the follow car).

  • The problem is more on the barricades than anything else. I was at transition when the white van came through. It was very clear that the van shouldn’t have been on the road when it came speeding by. We all tried to stop it, but there was little we could do besides wave and shout.
    The safety chairman was on the Van’s tail by the time he hit the transition flags and clearly knew there was an issue. He was honking and trying to cut the van off. The driver was just on a mission having already blown two barricades.
    I also believe Ben dramaticised the closeness of impact a bit with Pandora and the white van. From the transition it looked like Pandora and follow car had cleared the chute by the time he was halfway between monument and chute.
    If the barricades were more difficult to get through that would have prevented the issues this weekend.

  • Also, if I heard correctly, the org that was supposed to man hill 6 barricade did not this weekend and the road only had one barricade on it instead of the two it should have had.

  • Thanks so much for these writeups all semester. They’re seriously great. I’m always amazed when I come back for carnival and talk to undergrads and they say things like “I can’t imagine buggy without CMUbuggy and all the rolls reports,” so beers for Ben at Carnival for keeping them going.

    • Based on what I see, I never would have guessed. Thanks for the comments, I’ll be sure to find you at Carnival for those beers.

  • Considering that the one car I saw drove directly into a barricade as if they didn’t realize it was there until they heard it hit their car, I have to believe that driver wouldn’t notice a buggy until they felt the bump of driving over it.

    If you’re driving down a public street that you believe to be open, and a bunch of guys jump into the road and surround your car, or a random car starts tearing around after you trying to run you off the road, do you stop? or do you drive faster to get away? We are lucky that those cars chose to stop, but eventually we won’t be.

    The “road closed” signs and barricades Sweepstakes uses are tiny and non-obvious compared to what construction crews use when they close roads. Official signs aren’t that expensive, but are big and heavy-ish. Even some traffic cones & orange vests would be a huge improvement.

    The same problem keeps recurring – the cop by the museum lets a car past, thinking they’re going to the Phipps lot, and then that car drives into the chute rather than turning into the lot. That’d be easily prevented by having enough barricades or cones to direct people into the lot. I used to hate the idea of parking cars across the chute to block the road, but I think the risk of a buggy missing the turn (about once per year) and crashing into a car is less than the risk of letting cars continue to drive into the chute.

  • I agree, more and better barricades and improved signs would help. Skinny little wooden barriers are at times invisible.

    Cop car (or any other car) parked across the road blocking the inbound lane would be a plus (not sure if this happens or not).

    • The best thing to do at the chute barricade would probably be to have cones set up blocking off the chute but allowing access to Phipps (think on a curve). That way it’s abundantly clear to people that they can only go one direction.

  • Little known story. Way back in the 80s, I was driving follow car (yes, we had cars back then) and was slowly headed up the back hills with 3 of our buggies in front of me on hill 3 and 4. Suddenly, a CMU police car is coming up from behind with a head of steam and lights blazing, having entered at the driveway. I blocked his progress with my car until our buggies were off the road. This involved a lot of swerving as he was fairly determined to get past and became quite agitated. As soon as the buggies were off the course ( within a minute), I pulled over and let him by. Later, when the entire CMU police department were seeking my head on a stick, I was asked to defend my actions. Apparently, he was on his way to an reported head injury. They thought that I had blocked them for no reason and had thus put a student at risk (seconds count….). My position that I could not be sure that he was aware of the buggies in front of him and thus felt it necessary to block him for their safety, appeared to be barely sufficient to keep me out of further hot water. That is one of the rare cased that a follow car may have been a good thing. It is unknown to this day if he knew they were there or not. The initial attitude and reaction to my position by the CMU police makes me think he did not. None the less. I still want follow cars gone.

    • Another thing that sounds like could be solved with good barricaders. If they (for some strange reason) need to go through the course, the barricaders can make sure they know what’s going on, and keep everyone safe, and if needed, call on radio club to halt rolls while the car goes through.

  • Elmo Zoneball says:

    Random safety ideas:

    Strobes on the tips of the push bar handle. (remove them on race day if you like)

    One way radio communications from Sweepstakes “Control” people to drivers, so drivers can be warned of “Emergency stop! Car on the course,” “Zombies waiting at Scaife Hall,” “multiple buggy collision ahead, take the Squirrel Hill Exit from the Parkway East to avoid,” etc. A cheap FRS radio in each buggy, set to a designated channel, would suffice. Have Radio Club run the Control net.

    Equip all flagging locations with fluorescent orange safety flags they can wave at idiots who drive onto the course — more authoritative than arm-waving, which could be confused with an attempted car-jacking.

    Laser-cannon attached to buggies to vaporize errant vehicles that wander onto the course.

  • Me thinks Ben should be more careful with using the word “qualify” especially since it is impossible to qualify a driver in the fall. It would be very sad for a driver to not get to race because of lax practice in the spring after maxing out her carried over rolls in the fall.

    • If that’s the case, Rules Nerd should be happy that I don’t run Sweepstakes and determine who is qualified when. In any case, the line in question should now be more appropriate according to your “rules”

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