AND WE’RE BACK! Well… by we, I mean buggy, and by back, I mean rolls… The snow gave a one day reprieve and Sweepstakes jumped on the opportunity to start off the year. It was a cold start to the year, but boy was it a start, everything under the sun happened that Saturday. Some barricades were still missing so where there would normally be double barricades there would only be one. Cars tried to sneak on the course when the barricaders weren’t looking, some getting very close.
After the relentless winter that Pittsburgh has had this year, the course is in its worst condition yet. There are not many students (if any at this point) that will remember how bad lane 2 used to be before it was paved, but the roads have now gotten to the point where Sweepstakes is using Carnival cones to mark the egregious potholes and ice patches around the course. These new obstacles slowed down a lot of buggies and seriously effected their line in some cases. Then again, that was probably a good thing given the size of some of the holes out there.
|SDC||Vice, Bane, Malice, Avarice, Psychosis|
|Spirit||Kingpin II, Seraph, Haraka|
Observations (Saturday Gallery)
- Apex – With their slew of new drivers this year, Apex jumped on the opportunity to get some rolls in and switched between at least 2 or 3 drivers throughout the morning. This may only be their 3rd year on the course, but if you didn’t know that, you couldn’t tell based on how they were looking today. Rumors are there’s some internal squabbling, but it seems their organization is has become so founded that it won’t keep them off the course. Apex is also one team that is definitely building this year having posted all of their build pictures to facebook and being as open as possible about pretty much everything. Right now Phoenix is being driven by either Mallory Hayase, Palak Pujara, Xian Chang, Veronica Jaime-Lara, or Rachel Schmitt at any given time, so that new buggy can’t come fast enough for the youngsters.
- PiKA – Banshee, driven by Yisu Wang, was (I think) the only crash of the day and ended rolls in the hay. Aside from that, Pike made a similar mistake to one we saw last year where the lead buggy stopped and was passed without notice by both the buggy behind and the follow car. A feat which seems pretty impressive given all the stop flags that started getting thrown in front of Chimera, driven by Annabelle Lee. Since she had already passed Banshee who had come to a slow controlled stop between the transition and chute flags, her choice to continue through and finish her roll wasn’t an unsafe one. However, the follow car is another story all together. Fortunately, word made it to top of the hill and the safety chair made he way to meet the stopped buggy where the driver’s goggles had apparently fallen down her face, impairing her vision.
- NROTC – Patriot, driven by Gwen Jones, was seen on the course again to the joy of tens of people around the course. It’s always nice to see new teams stick around and make it back year to year. Having not come out in the fall, The brave men and women of NROTC left themselves some significant ground to make up. This year’s raceday is only 6 weeks away as of last Friday and even though they’re good at getting a few rolls in a day, rolls are about to get a lot shorter, and teams are going to start taking more and more time as they prepare themselves for the big race. Also you never know how many days are going to be cancelled, or how long this winter is going to last. It’s an uphill battle, but if anyone is up to the task, it would be our future members of the US armed forces.
- SAE – Having joined the party only slightly late in the fall, the drivers of SAE managed to give themselves and low but non-zero starting point in their quest for qualification. Lucy, driven by Eileen Wu, looked to be rolling very well throughout the day, however Rubicon, driven by Sophia Kim, seemed to be a little confused by the cones that adorned the course and made very early turns into the chute all morning. This new line put her over a small bump in the course which caused her to bottom out several times also popping a couple hatches loose. Lucy also managed to find the bump a couple times and in their first roll, both buggies had loose or lost hatches, fortunately, nothing serious was damaged, and both were fixed up for the rest of the morning.
- SDC – No one was back to their old selves faster than SDC who probably had the best rolls of the morning, maybe partly because Fringe wasn’t there to contest them. Most of their buggies were back up to speed by their second or third roll and looked as though they couldn’t care less about the condition of the course. Only one incident found Bane, driven by Callista Gonzalez, on a collision course with the bales on her first roll. Luckily she realized her situation and managed to slow down and veer away while coming to a stop within a foot of the bales. Standing right there, I got a good vantage of the whole situation and was so impressed I almost forgot to take a picture. Based on her positioning, I think she might have been able to pull it out without a full stop, but just to be safe she was moved back to the middle of the road before she continued up the backhills. Callista drove Rage in the fall as Bane was out of commision the whole semester. SDC apparently also tried to do some past tests but had a snafu with the follow car and didn’t get the safety chair in to see what I’m sure was the most beautiful pass to ever grace the sport.
- SigEp – Where SDC planned their passes, SigEp had a few clearly unplanned ones giving them the closest close calls of the morning. Barracuda nearly hit Mamba on their first rolls, driven by Colleen Casey and Katie Correll respectively, then almost doing it again a couple rolls later just in reversed roles. The first time, Barracuda made the motion to pass, but had lost so much speed avoiding a crash that she came to a standstill (probably due to some braking as well), the second time it looked like Mamba hadn’t noticed and there would potentially be a buggy-buggy crash, but in a violent, last-second swerve she managed to keep her distance. Who knows why or how something like this could happen twice in reverse orders, but both Colleen and Katie proved that they could avoid a crash if they had to.
- SigNu – Having started late last fall just like SAE you would think that Sig Nu would be in a similar panic to get rolls, that however would be an incorrect thought as Krait, driven by Avia (?), managed to rack up 10 rolls by coming out to one additional day last semester. SigNu was the first org to test out the new obstacle course that had been set up and made it through with no problem and quickly picked up speed throughout the morning. By her third roll she was bagless and was tearing up the course. One roll, just as she was starting her turn into the chute, she nicked a pothole and popped high up in the air. From the looks of it she was heading into a spin or roll that we had seen all too recently last raceday. Amazingly enough, she manged to bring it back down and stabilize through the turn with enough speed to get a small but respectable roll-out. If this driving is at all foreshadowing, SigNu could be looking to reclaim their former spot on the leaderboard.
- Spirit – Looking solid all morning, Spirit is clearly ready to get things going and finish the season strong going into Carnival’s 100th year celebration. All of their drivers seemed totally unfazed by the addition of the cones and there were no spins by the often spinny team. It’s likely that they haven’t fully powered up their hill 2’s yet, but hopefully this is a good sign for them. Looking at roll counts, Spirit would probably have the most experienced drivers on average with nearly every single one over 20 rolls. SDC is the only team to have a couple drivers with more rolls and few other teams even come close. This shows some serious depth in their drivers and it’s tough to say who will be their A team come raceday, even their times from the fall are so close that it doesn’t make the choice any clearer.
AEPi, CIA, Fringe were all absent this weekend which could be considered questionable considering the shorted Spring schedule this year. AEPi were absent for their usual reason so that doesn’t bring anything to question. With only one buggy and two veteran drivers, they should be able to find the time for their 11 required rolls to qualify. Fringe and CIA however both have at least 4-5 buggies each and it’s assumed (given the recent history) that both will be building. These teams might have a difficult time getting all their required rolls, and adding a new buggy on top of that will only make things harder. Looking at the road you would get a different point of view. Because of all the potholes and icy patches on the course, it’s amazing that there wasn’t more carnage this weekend, which is definitely something worthy of being avoided.
Other Items and Questions:
- This week there will be another planning meeting for Carnival, so expect some announcements as to what might change about the races and schedule for this year’s Raceday.
- It’s already known that we want to have a PiKA and Spirit alumni grudge match to help celebrate this year’s 100th Carnival, but we’re looking to have at least one or two others, what would you suggest as a fun alumni grudge match? SDC vs Fringe? CIA vs SigNu? womens match of CIA vs SDC who were the first dominators of the women’s division?
- This time around I started adding driver’s names where I could. As we get closer to raceday I’ll try and put out a lineup of which buggy will be driven by whom. I won’t always be able to do this since there are multiple drivers in some buggies that switch up day to day and roll to roll, but is this something you would want to see more of?
- I realize that these reports have gotten pretty long winded compared to where they started off years ago, would a shorter report be preferable, or would you rather I keep writing like this?
- As much fun as it is to write these on my own, I would much rather do it with the help of other buggy people in the pittsburgh area. If you saw something at rolls that you think is news worthy, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @cmubuggy with #buggyrolls and I’ll make sure it gets added to the rolls report.
- Lastly, if you know any buggy fans who aren’t aware of this site (alumni and students alike), be sure to share this site with them for all their buggy news needs.