Raceday 2018
April 20-21

Raceday Previews are being Distributed!

Hey everybody,

It’s that joyous time of year when the Raceday Preview actually comes out for all of our dues paying members. Sadly we know of a few members who have paid dues but we unfortunately do not have their email to send the Raceday Preview to.

If you paid your dues, and didn’t receive your Preview, please email news@cmubuggy.org and we will get it to you as soon as possible!

If you haven’t paid dues, but would like one, please check out cmubuggy.org/join for ways that you can obtain said Preview and email us when you’re done.

Happy reading, and we look forward to seeing you all at the Design Competition in TWO DAYS!

129 Responses to Raceday Previews are being Distributed!

  1. “Although we all remember the glory days of CAMO, AEП is most famous for 2 things: RoboBuggy and Jake Reid”

    I am far more offended by this than the stupid money “joke” that Compubookie came up with. After the 6 years I gave (and the several years that many others gave) to AEPi Buggy to turn it into a respectable (if not very competitive) organization, my lasting legacy is RoboBuggy and Jake Reid? I wasn’t even around for RoboBuggy (though I have to say that I am proud of the accomplishment of the brothers in getting that on the course)!

    That’s not to say that we have other lasting legacies in the grand scheme of Buggy (personally, I’m most proud of our near 30 second speed increase the year we built Zephyrus, the year Camo nearly passed Envy in the Chute, the Sweepstakes push team, and of course, the AEPit Crew exhibition heat). We did win awards 4 years in a row (Chairman’s Choice, Spirit of Buggy, Chairman’s Choice, and People’s Choice), and of course we kept Camo on the course until it was no longer physically able to get around the course. But still, I think I’d rather be known for nothing (or, ore accurately, a team that is willing to come out every week, help out fellow orgs when needed, and generally have a good time) than “RoboBuggy and Jake Reid.”

    • I should add…Aside from that, excellent work (again) on the Raceday Preview! Thanks to everyone involved for putting this together, so that us out-of-towners have a little more info come raceday.

      • As someone who was responsible for a lot to be remembered there for in my opinion, AEPi has worked very hard to be remembered for little past those things. Many of the amusing traditions died, the effort tapered off, the times regressed, the innovation stopped. I picked their most historically significant buggy out of a dumpster to take care of it myself to show off for years to come *because they couldn’t be bothered to ask if anyone wanted to take care of it*. Well. And so they had an opportunity to play taps on a trumpet, and feel very clever about themselves. I don’t know their brief flirtation with effort is particularly memorable in anyone’s minds but ours, especially in the shadow of teams that are seizing their shots at relevance like they are going out of style (Looking at you, Apex).

        I really appreciated my time there, but if I wasn’t there I don’t think I would remember that team that seemed more fun and seemed to be making more progress a few years back.

        That said, I didn’t write it, so I won’t defend it past that.

      • Jake Reid is a contemporary (and former classmate and Stever floormate) of mine, who originally joined CIA before going over to AEPi’s buggy program in late 2010 or so to serve as their buggy chair. He was their buggy chair for two years and then was Sweepstakes safety chair his senior year, RD2013. He is certainly one of their more notable recent alumni but is hardly the end-all-be-all of AEPi buggy’s legacy. He never did finish “Project Mexican Thunder”, which I’m increasingly realizing was likely all a joke. He made some sweet concept art, though.

        It’s worth noting that Robobuggy’s current resurgence has been under the purview of the CMU Robotics Club, and the leadership of ECE seniors Haley Dalzell and Carl Curran. The only connection it has to AEPi’s robobuggy effort is the chassis (originally built by you, Shafeeq, if my information is correct). FUN FACT, that chassis was saved from the dumpster when I happened to walk into AEPi last year and saw it chilling out in their dining area. Asked the brothers if they were still using it, and they said it was slated for disposal, so I grabbed it to preserve that bit of buggy history. It was too late for the shell though.

        I see the Raceday Preview has now been updated to reflect the subjectivity of Pacella’s opinion with a “(to me anyways)” thrown in there. Keep it classy, everyone. (Or don’t, if your wheels suck)

  2. Corrections

    Freyja got an exception and will be rolling race day.

    ROTC is rolling again, this time in Naval regalia.
    They will not

    Apex is going into their second year and looking incredibly strong for such a young team
    This is their third year.

    • Thanks Ryan. Sounds like we should have invited you into the secret back room, or that we definitely should next year.

      • In addition, Fringe’s best women’s placement in the last 5 years is 1* (2010)

    • Yea… there were a lot of corrections I made, that then got deleted, which I made again, but then somehow didn’t make it in… If I find the time I want to redo it with the fixes I intended… turns out there’s a lot of things that you miss when you go though it on little sleep…

  3. As someone who’s in her third year driving, I’ve been on this website more than a few times. I respect the dedication to buggy Ben and everyone else involved with rolls reports, photo galleries, and other updates have, and enjoy thumbing through them. However, I think we can all admit that sometimes discussions on here can become a bit heated. As someone involved in a smaller buggy org, I choose to stay out of them. This time, I’d like to clear up some inaccurate facts and some possible misconstructions of my words in the Raceday Preview. I have a lot of respect for Pacella’s dedication to buggy as well and thought he was a great Sweepstakes chair in 2012, but I find that the quotes he pulled from my responses to his survey give an incorrect picture of my personal view of AEPi buggy as it exists now.

    We did have a few years where not a lot of new people were introduced to buggy, which leaves us with a more inexperienced team, so that is a reasonable comment. However, both our chairmen and drivers have the experience to keep things going. Also, I didn’t mean to say that the younger brothers involved now are more passionate than those I had the pleasure of experiencing buggy with last year and the year before as my quote was interpreted. Even more than that, I don’t want it to seem like I don’t have respect for those who participated in AEPi buggy before my time. I had the pleasure of meeting Janice, a previous driver and Sweepstakes assistant chairman, on raceday last year, along with other alumni. Having one of them comment that I had a nice line during my race was particularly uplifting because I know how dedicated these people were to buggy when they were students. I was also told that the event of our Womens A team I drove for last year making finals made some of said alumni very excited, and I’m honored to have been able to do that.

    My second comment about our rolls (or the lack thereof) on Saturdays, copied verbatim from the document I have saved, is “Believe it or not, we’ve rolled on Saturdays before” and not “AEPi used to roll on Saturdays”. I meant this to be interpreted in the casual way Pacella did when he introduced us as the “Sunday only band of brothers”, and not in a negative way. I do know AEPi used to come out more on Saturdays in previous years, but when our drivers need rolls, we come out whenever we need to, even now.

    The last correction I have is about my roll count for the semester. I got 5 rolls on truck Saturday, the first of which was a pass test, and am qualified for raceday. No appeal was needed, and this honest miscount was fixed with no harm done. It would’ve been nice if the Pittsburgh weather and other logistical things allowed me to roll more often this semester, but life never goes as planned. Besides, I have 2 previous years of experience and 14 rolls from last semester behind me.

    I apologize for the sheer length of this post, but I find that it is justified that I clarify these things. Buggy is a unique, wonderful sport, and it has been a pleasure to be a part of it for the entirety of my time at CMU thus far. As an organization, I know AEPi has been less involved with buggy than in the past as of late, but that doesn’t mean we appreciate the sport any less. In the spirit of buggy, as many like to say, I hope we can accept that every org runs differently, but each brings their own personality to the sport, which makes it all the more fun.

    Best of luck to all on raceday, and I’ll see you on the course.

    • Erica, t
      ***hanks so much for posting on here. I personally haven’t talked to any of the current AEPi team so all the information that I use for the reports is taken from what I can see on the course. I was pleased to see you guys come out more often as we narrowed in on raceday. I’d love for you to continue posting corrections like this! It’s always better to hear it directly from the students, I hope that I can talk to you guys more next year.

      For any teams that read this, I really encourage you to post corrections, updates, explainations, ect on every rolls report!

  4. Nice job on the preview. For the record, I am happy with the zoo’s efforts and approach this year. In the past, we succeeded when we combined a large house, and a technology advantage (goodyear rubber and early 3-wheelers followed by other goodly wheels), with the effort to make it work. They do not have the house size to form a great push team and in this era of mature buggy designs and off-the-shelf fast wheels, a technical advantage is harder to come by. However, to see them put in the effort despite the chaos their change in address wrought is a positive sign. Race day woes are typically cured by getting the driver comfortable with speed and they have done a goodly job on that this year. The past ain’t what it used to be but i like their future. I have hopes the spark of this year will light a goodly fire.

    • I have to say I was also really impressed by SigNu this year. I don’t remember if I made that clear in the preview, but after all the problems they’ve had with their house, it’s amazing to see the dedication and strength return of a very proud organization.

  5. Okay, I paid my dues. Send me my preview!

    I’ll be out on Flagstaff with my 4-year-old if anyone else will be there with kids.

  6. This is in response to shafeeq’s post in the forums. I am posting here because the forum seems to be broken and will not let me register. I am the chairman of Fringe buggy and was the person in the follow truck that attended to the accident, I also traveled in the ambulance with her to the hospital. Our driver is fine and was released from the hospital today and she will make a full recovery. She was very lucky.

    Fringe has three harness points in our buggies. Two that are made of kevlar that is rolled until it is about 7-8 layers thick that are attached to the shell and reinforced with several layers of carbon about where the drivers armpits are, these attach with carabiners to the harness. The third is a kind of tie down strap that is attached to the shell in the rear of the buggy and is connected to the harness with 300lb test webbing via a carabiner. In the accident, all three points failed. The carabiners ripped through the kevlar, but the attachment remained affixed to the shell. The attachment point in the tail also remained attached, but the 300lb test webbing ripped completely. The harness was unharmed and was fitted correctly. I realized yesterday that all drivers need to be wearing full harnesses that go over the shoulder; climbing harnesses that only go around the waist are inadequate. To extract her from the buggy, two paramedics lifted her by the harness as I pulled Banyan off of her. This was critical as it kept her fractured spine immobile. That would have been impossible with a half harness and the buggy would have had to been cut off, delaying her arrival at the hospital. The most important thing I would like to note is that our buggies have a built in crumple area in the nose. I prefer not to go into detail, but the front 5 inches of Banyan no longer exist. If this area were not built up, and the steering handle and her hands were not as far back as they were, she would have been thrown with much more force and she would have also suffered broken arms and worse. Our buggies are designed with front end crashes in mind and the driver would have not fared as well if we had not taken the time to design them as such.

    I honestly see what happened as a near best case scenario for a head on collision with a curb at speeds higher that 35mph. Had the attachments been more rigid, the force on the drivers body would have been greater and she could have been injured much more severely. Had the attachments been weaker, she could have been thrown clear of the buggy and suffered head injuries and a more severe spinal injury.

    I am committed to making the information about this crash public, within reason. Please ask me if you have questions about our driver safety systems.

    • Thank you for writing this and being so forward about everything! It’s going to help everyone be as safe as possible and I appreciate you being open and honest.
      I have a couple questions if you don’t mind:
      First, you said you thought the injuries would be worse if the harness points tearing hadn’t absorbed some of the impact. Is that your own speculation, or the opinion of a paramedic? It’s a really interesting thought, when safety is usually interpreted as, “keep the driver tight in the buggy always”
      Second, what happened with the brakes? I’m not asking for details about your steering design, but I’m wondering if the same issue caused both the steering and brakes to fail, or if the driver made a split second decision to try and turn instead of braking, or just froze in that terrifying moment, etc.
      Feel free to not share anything that Fringe or the driver wants to keep private. I’ve just been wondering about those two points.

      • I’m not on fringe, but I was a driver, and from my own experiences (and talking to other drivers) you would really have to have superhuman reflexes to realize what was going on in time to pull the brakes… plus there’s the possibility of a spin causing a worse impact if you brake too fast?

        • For full disclosure, I’m a former Fringe Mechanic and chute flagger.

          I would remind my drivers during rolls that is they think something is wrong with their steering or their vision is impaired to start tapping the breaks to bleed their speed, and try to stay in a straight line until they are slow enough to make the turn. I rather them spin in the middle of the road then crash trying to make the chute turn. There was more than one occasion during my 4 years where the chute flaggers went chasing after a buggy because the driver started to break before chute and we wanted to make sure they didn’t spin into the side of the road by chute flag.

          During rolls, chute flaggers would also throw the yellow flag if it looked like the buggy was not anywhere near the correct line for the org. One time two of us actually ran into the road to get a buggy (maybe Sig Nu?) to stop because she was on a collision course for the monument. She couldn’t see the flag but heard us yelling break so she break and luckily missed the monument.

          I’m not sure if a reminder would have helped the driver or prevented the accident but I feel that the drivers need to be reminded that they can hit the break during races. I’d much rather see a DNF (breaking) instead of a DNF (spin or crash).

    • No safety system is designed to “safely eject” the person it is supposed to protect from the confines of that system. If she had lost teeth on the curb (and it sounds like she could have) you wouldn’t be arguing that a harness point failure was the correct outcome. Your harness points should be designed to retain the driver in a head on collision at speed because you cannot control what happens to her if she is ejected. Whether you need to design for head on collisions with a concrete curb vs. hay bales is open to debate. Perhaps older folks than I can speak to the design spec of the rules or we can revisit the numbers given explicitly in the rule book. Regardless, there are still a lot of unknowns that should be addressed for an appropriately informed discussion as opposed to a knee-jerk spamming of new regulations and building a new buggy course out of cotton and bunnies.

      Why didn’t she brake? Did her brakes malfunction? Why was she swerving? Did her steering malfunction? Did her helmet fall over her eyes? Was she ever told that spinning out with a tight turn will absorb more energy than a headlong impact? Was she qualified to be driving (did she have an exemption)? Did her mechanics communicate effectively before giving her raceday secret sauce? ………

      Rules and safety discussion has shut down conversation about students attempting to design a crumple zone before. No student should pretend to be qualified to sign off on such a design and anyone actually qualified would know that such designs require repeated testing with repeatable manufacturing that is simply not possible unless there are dumpsters full of crash tested Fringe buggies out there.

    • A couple things I would like to clear up. I was a little out of it when I wrote this last night.

      I don’t think it was good that the harness points failed, I can’t actually imagine a situation where that would be a good thing. It is my opinion that the harness points need to be able to absorb some of the impact, which means they should not be too rigid. That does not mean they shouldn’t be strong. I don’t think the harness points would have failed if she had hit a hay bale instead of a curb, we have never had any issues with our harness points in impacts like that. The hay bales should have been placed around that corner to at least where she hit the curb and on most weekends they are.

      As for the crumple area, I used the wrong term. The area in our nose is simply built up much more than the rest of our buggies. What I was trying to convey was that even with the built up area, the impact destroyed the first five inches of the buggy.

      The brakes were not used in the incident but were undamaged and still working when we took Banyan back to the shop. The steering is also unharmed. It was not immediately clear why the brakes were not used and I am not going to press for details this soon.

        • I’m not sure if there is epoxy throughout the thickness of the Kevlar, but at least the exterior is epoxied to help with bonding to the shell and to maintain the shape of the attachment point.

      • Thanks for the pictures. Is the rear attachment similar but survived because the strap broke first?
        Do the carabiners clip directly onto the kevlar part? If so, the round carabiner seems destined to dent its way into the kevlar/epoxy under load.

        There are harness designs that will slide uselessly off the driver once any one attachment lets go. Luckily this harness was not one of those. All harness straps are required to be at least 1.75″ wide (except for straps included in an off-the-shelf climbing harness). That rule has been violated for a long time for straps restraining the less important directions, with no ill effect. But it is a bad idea to undersize straps restraining forwards motion – 1.75″ would’ve been 75% stronger than the one that broke.

        • Our rear strap is one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Keeper-85243-Lashing-Strap-Pack/dp/B004PL4H0O/ref=sr_1_4?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1397751391&sr=1-4

          We cut the loop that attaches to the metal clip and then have a carabiner sewn into the free end with a box stitch (as can be seen in the photo). The metal clip is epoxied to the shell in the tail of the buggy and reinforced with carbon. The strap is run through the clip which allows us to pull the strap tight as the driver climbs into the buggy and release her by pressing the button as she climbs out. The strap always stays in the buggy and clips into the harness while loading the buggy. The metal clip in the rear remained fixed to the shell in the accident.

          This system works very well because it will always be taut regardless of how tall the driver is, the position of the driver within the buggy, or which harness the driver is wearing.

          We are replacing these in all of our buggies with wider straps. However, this was within the rules because the strap was part of the harness attachment point and not the harness itself.

          As for the front attachments, the carabiners do clip directly to the Kevlar.

          • Typically used to secure canoes and kayaks.

            At least you didn’t wrap the harness around the driver’s neck. Thank god for small favors.

          • It’s clear a lot of alumni are shocked to discover Fringe is running such an unsafe arrangement and while the focus is on this buggy, it’s also apparent that the lack of safety is endemic to their entire program. It’s easy to focus criticism on the current students, but they didn’t build this buggy or design it’s safety system and John seems to have been forthcoming and eager to improve.
            Fringe was failed by a long line of alumni who I see run their mouths here regularly who should have learned better in industry and did nothing to improve things for their team. Fringe was failed by a long line of safety chairs (some of them Fringe alums) who’ve seen how every team has done things and signed off on this. Fringe was failed by every design judge they presented to that demonstrated a total lack of understanding of the sport if they could not identify this shortcoming. And it raises serious doubt that any member of the above groups has anything useful to contribute to a solution.
            I think that it is criminally negligent to argue that the webbing in direct contact with the driver’s body is somehow different from the webbing that secures her to the buggy as far as loads are concerned and if this is the type of sophistry Fringe members engage in, they shouldn’t be taken at their word on anything. It begs the question how they determined 300 or 600lbs was a sufficient load carrying capacity. Was it price? Didn’t the requirement introduced by the Pika safety chair years back that 22kN carabiners would be required give them any indication of the loads their safety system should be expected to meet? I’d like to see a close up photo of the carabiners confirming they meet that requirement as well, and they aren’t some dollar store key chain stand in.
            Serious question here, if your team was suddenly dissolved, could any of you recommend that your drivers continue doing what they love with Fringe?

          • My team actually was dissolved and in fact I did recommend that our drivers continue doing what they loved with Fringe. This happened after knowing much, much, much more than you about their builds, commitment to safety, and the safety equipment used (not just by them but by every single team). To alleviate your fears, they use good carabiners.

          • That’s rich to criticize college students in a forum. I shouldn’t be surprised given all the lack of civility in discussion forums. Who are you to decide or comment on the culture of a program for which you have one data point cited?

            You seem too Godly to have missed that, while buggy has been around 100 years, that they are prototypes and each and every one has significant design flaws compared to cars, planes, trains etc… Even those professional systems have flaws. You hold students to a standard of zero mistakes, while tolerating tens of spin outs, wheels that fly off, buggies that flip, and the countless number of issues teams have.

            I have two daughters and, knowing what I know as an ex-fringe mechanic, would encourage them to drive for fringe. That’s because I get to see what you don’t. I get to see them retire buggies, including the fastest in history, for safety reasons. I was there to see them choose reverse trykes because they are safer. Then followed by ten straight years without a spin. I see them not roll if there are concerns. I see them making public a safety flaw they just found out a week ago because they strive to fix their designs to make them safer. I haven’t seen a single team post their safety solutions.

            Next time you decide to waste my time with your opinions, either know what you are talking about or be a constructive part of the solution.

          • Using a component with a 200 lbf working strength as part of the primary load path of a buggy’s harness shows an extreme lack of engineering judgement.

            Many students are taught the equations for constant acceleration in high school physics. It’s not a large leap from those equations to the understanding that a buggy in a crash will stop over a short distance, and therefore see a large acceleration. Much larger than the 2g or so of capability given by a 200 lbf strength harness. In my opinion, a team with no members – or no alumni – capable of making that connection is unable to roll safely.

            Anyone – safety chairs, Fringe members, or Fringe alumni – who was aware of this setup and did nothing – you screwed up. I apologize for insulting you, but it needs to be said. Be extremely thankful that the driver wasn’t more seriously injured, and make sure it’s fixed before next fall.

          • McCue, since you belong to the above mentioned groups, please pardon me that I don’t care for your judgement or memory. I’d like to see a photo of the carabiners used with visible markings. Fringe claims they didn’t know better and it should be characterized as a mistake. Most people are shocked that they didn’t know better. The carabiners are a specific instance where an outside party set a minimum safety requirement, and the community should know if Fringe met that requirement. If they did, there should be no issue providing the photo so everyone can have some confidence in their intentions.

            Billet, the only students I criticize are the safety chairs, who I feel carry a higher responsibility. The sole purpose of their position is to ensure the safety of this sport and they have access to the best practices of every team. They failed, and it is necessary to criticize to set the expectation that they will not fail. I don’t hold the students responsible for using a safety system they inherited that had been confirmed repeatedly as satisfactory. I do hold Fringe alumni responsible who must know that load rating, and must know it is inadequate. You and the other Fringe alumni would do a lot better in my view admitting that if you could make a mistake like this, your judgement is necessarily suspect, and you need to undertake a full review of every assumption you make in your program.

            Buggy is not safe. There’s a reason drivers are loaded up with safety equipment. And this 10 year claim without a spin is exactly the sort of sophistry Fringe needs to quit. Who cares if you go 100 years without a spin, if you send buggies head long into curbs because the steering or brakes fail or because the driver’s safety equipment is not properly secured? If the helmet is the reason, either you have a safety culture where the driver will stop when she can’t see, or you don’t. Fringe doesn’t. Fringe has rolled drivers in buggies for years with inadequate safety harnessing. They got lucky. Whatever claim they make to a safe record is meaningless, and the sooner they admit that, the better off they’ll be.

            There have been several suggestions for improvements from the gallery, but I really don’t think a forum is the best place for it. I’m sure every team paying attention is conducting their own internal audit to ensure they meet a defensible standard and I’m sure Fringe will undergo extra scrutiny next year. Ultimately, the shock boils down to one suggestion: do it right. It’s not hard or difficult, perhaps a bit more costly. They have the tools and knowledge at their disposal. I’m sure the students will fix it. The question is why, if Fringe is so knowledgeable and safe it ever needed fixing in the first place.

          • Having not been around for many years, kind of makes it difficult to “safety” a buggy. I didn’t realize that alumni for other teams did that as a matter of custom. Please share when your team has done that with you.

            I agree there was a safety issue. I am pointing out the absurdity of singling out Fringe. How about SDC? How many wheels are going to fall off their buggies before you stand here and make a stink and demand to “see their wheel attachments.” How did you stand idly by a couple years ago when Spirit put one in the bails every roll?

            This is not vigilante buggy safetying. All designs are flawed, I assure you. None would stand up to the rigor of testing that we have in commercial transportation and racing. There have been suggestions posed. I suggested a set of cases that teams should be required to design towards (like the crash tests on cars even though we wouldn’t perform those tests on buggies). Others suggested useful steps like braking tests and harness test rigs.

            I guess your suggestion is that we get rid of the safety chair and now, alums get to be responsible for safetying their buggies. Then when your team has an accident, which it will inevitably do, we can sit here and mock you for allowing the team to build something that fails and disparage your program for incompetence. Nice!

            I agree this strap should have undergone more due diligence. Callously calling out an organization for disclosing an error and then HIGHLY generalizing off of one data point doesn’t sound to me like it will encourage others to follow suit.

          • Yeah okay, when I get home from work I’ll type up a thing defending my safety chairmanship from 8 years ago to an anonymous heckler from the comments section of an alumni racing enthusiast board. This specific issue is somewhat dear to me because Pika had a big crash that year under somewhat similar circumstances.

            In the meantime, I am sure John can furnish you with more information about the carabiners and other safety equipment, which were well within the spirit and letter of the rules back then. This included the rating of the carabiners, which I assume do not expire. They stopped tolerating my Froom visits long ago so I can’t tell you first hand.

            Even though you are an asshole for being anonymous, your concerns are genuine and deserve to be addressed seriously. If you prefer, I will follow up with you personally and confidentially — gmail: adam dot mccue.

          • Billet, I assume alumni are most familiar with the safety systems they put in place and if they later discover or have reason to believe those safety systems are inadequate they should let their teams know. I understand it makes it easier to attack me if you put words in my mouth, but as Raka points out below, you obviously have no problem misstating facts tantamount to libel here, so I don’t think you have a great deal of credibility.

            My view is in a competitive sport, accidents are bound to happen. Especially with what are essentially custom prototypes. However, the safety system must be reliable. I count 3 failures here. 1. Failure to secure a helmet. 2. Failure to brake or steer as necessary. 3. Failure of the harness to retain the driver. If there is any organization with 3 failures causing an accident this bad, they absolutely deserve to be vilified and have extra scrutiny, doubly so if they conceal failures and triply so if their alumni go out and publicly beat the drum about how safe they are while they rolled with one of the failures for years across all their buggies. Contrition shows a willingness to change. Boastfulness does not.

            Maybe you are saying when you were a mechanic, Fringe’s safety system was superior. When and why did it regress? Or maybe you don’t want any responsibility for the fact that it never improved. That’s fine if you are old enough. But the responsibility has to lie somewhere, and there were 3 groups of people who had an opportunity to improve or prevent it from regressing, and didn’t.

            My suggestion is not to get rid of the safety chair, but thanks for providing an obvious strawman argument to reduce your credibility. No, my suggestion is that the safety chair be expected to undertake his or her job seriously, understand each safety system, and have a reasonable expectation it will be useful. I don’t know, maybe the safety chairs were continually misled by Fringe, and they are blameless. I don’t believe that to be the case, especially if some of them were former Fringe members, but if it were, such as if they let the safety chair believe the webbing was rated for higher than 600lbs, that would be egregious.

            My goal is not be callous nor have I called them out for disclosing. I said he “seems to have been forthcoming and eager to improve” I’m sorry if you feel so threatened you can’t recognize that as support for the students. Pics of the carabiners will help with that impression as well. I don’t expect others to publicly disclose their shortcomings. I really don’t care. What I hope is that they are scared to death of undergoing this public scrutiny and make damn sure they never have to. If anyone reads this discussion and comes away saying, we’ve got nothing to worry about, our safety record is fine, that person is an idiot.

            McCue, I’m not really interested in your defense. I don’t even know that Fringe used the same system with you, but it’s obvious their system is inadequate and at some point a safety chair should have taken their job seriously enough to ask the appropriate questions. Maybe you fall into that category, maybe you don’t. But at least one person does, and that person has a responsibility to say, “I didn’t verify this system,” or God I hope not to hear, “I was misled,” and let it stand as a warning to future safety chairs that they don’t want to find themselves in the same position and they should take their job seriously.

            Given the type of attacks above and anger expressed, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t stay anonymous. You acknowledge my concerns are genuine, as I believe them to be, and it’s more important they are addressed rather than who raised them.

          • Fringe obviously had good enough engineering judgement to build a faster buggy in Banyan than they had before. It seems like they built the buggy strong enough, thus I’m surprised they made such an error in judging the strength of the harness. I would’ve expected it to be one of the more half-assed teams to make that sort of mistake. Yes, it should’ve been caught & corrected earlier, but I hope the current students are fixing it because they want to be safer, not because they’re afraid of random alumni giving them shit about it. Public shaming has its place, but is counterproductive if it just makes teams hide their screwups.

            During Billet’s time, a Fringe buggy stood up to submarining a car. Obviously that harness was strong enough, so they must have switched to the weaker design at some point. After that, every new mechanic thinks “this is what a harness is supposed to be.” How many people would question the suitability of something that existed long before they came to CMU? Until a crash reveals a problem, every mechanic thinks he’s doing the safe thing by copying a proven design into the new buggy, and telling the safety chair so. I don’t think that’s peculiar to Fringe.

            When a mechanic becomes safety chair, he’s either too inexperienced to be useful, or he’s been indoctrinated in his team’s way of doing things. Once he sees what everybody else is doing is he going to say “uhh, maybe I fucked up” instead of “wow, nobody else was as clever as us”? The safety chair can check the load rating of the hardware, but if he suspects the pan attachment is too weak, what can he do? Would any team not fight tooth & nail against having to perform a possibly damaging proof test?

            When a team goes a long time between crashes, it easy to get complacent and think you are safe because of your safety record, and make decisions that have a safety impact without realizing it, because no decision you’ve ever made has had a visible safety consequence. The slow change is more obvious to alumni than students, but until they have their own “oh shit!” moment, it is easy to dismiss alumni as always complaining about something.

          • This conversation has devolved from being a discussion on how to improve the sport’s safety to who is right. Literally who gives a fuck. Lets get this back on topic. Are hay bales adequate, where do they need to be on the course, what constitutes a safe harness system, do we need stricter build standards on buggies etc etc.

          • I’m arguing the points made by the others in lieu of discussing specific safety because we still have not seen photos of the carabiners and I take those arguments as justification for not complying. It’s very easy for Fringe to claim they were unaware of the necessary strength required by a safety harness, but it’s difficult to make that argument when you have a required component stamped with its specific strength. Another explanation is that they do not use appropriately rated carabiners, and while I understand this is a serious charge, it’s easily mediated, and the fact that Fringe has not done so is suspicious. McCue recognizes this as reasonable. It is not a request for information that could be regarded as secret. The rule was implemented in 2003, I believe, and there, at least, is one safety chair who took his job seriously.

            Let’s not argue. Post the pictures.

          • At this point, it doesn’t seem the pictures will ever be forthcoming. I believe that if Fringe could post the pictures and shut me up, they would do so, but posting pictures of components that break the rules is another matter entirely. They won’t do that no matter what. They’ll concoct some story about why it can’t be done or dismiss requests and say it’s not worth their time when it couldn’t take more than 5 minutes. I shouldn’t have to be the one calling for it, if the safety chair did his job and conducted a thorough investigation, he would know. And though I know it’s really a waste of my time, this is important enough it’s worth calling attention to.

            And the reason is this: people can get on this board and discuss safety and all the things they are going to do to improve, but if they aren’t held accountable for the rules that exist, then what is the point? If the safety chair is going to use his position to glean whatever information he can and then go back to his organization without ever having done anything to ensure the safety of the sport, what purpose does that position serve? And if the community is going to let the standard of safety be set by bluster and sophistry, then why bother?

          • Listen, Inspector Shocked, nobody is concocting any stories or fabricating evidence. I just don’t think people read this thread anymore and undergraduates in the middle of finals are not beholden to the oddly specific demands of anonymous internet commenters.

            Email Dieser and he will take some pictures for you I am sure. Unless they changed them, the carabiners are fine. That isn’t even the thing that failed (making me wholly confident they are not dollar-store carabiners), so maybe you’d like to have a whole safety done on video to ease your mind?

            Being safety chair was something I took incredibly seriously, and I can recall a number of times I required difficult modifications on buggies — including Fringe’s, which they gladly made — to conform to the rules. I am close with the three safety chairs after me, and I know they also took it very seriously. It is not a position that exists to glean information for your own org, and any safety chair will tell you that the amount of competitive intelligence you learn is minimal. Everyone has good intentions.

            I don’t understand what you’re suggesting to solve the problem except trying to make the word “sophistry” happen and see some amateur carabiner porn. Do you just want better safety chairs? Should alumni interview them? I, too, agree that the rules should be followed; does that help with anything?

  7. Glad to hear the driver will make a full recovery.

    Has anyone heard of an alternate to hay bales? Is there something that could work better? Can we make certain safety technology pubic? Just some food for thought. It seems in the last 5-10 years the number of crashes have increased considerably (I started in buggy 7 years ago).

    We have a “sit test” but we never seem to consider looking at what is the best system to handle frontal crashes.

    -spud (pika chair 2011)

  8. A couple of comments – where does one get 300lb. test webbing? That is incredibly light stuff, even the smallest webbing you find on low cost crank straps is rated for much higher than 300lb. It is nylon I assume?

    I have seen quite a few harnesses and attachments recently that looked very crappy visually. I remember a lot of attention paid to this stuff in the 80’s – has the attention waned?

    I did not see the Fringe crash but it sounds similar to Zoo’s crash into the inner chute curb a few years back. Very inadequate bales there and the harness failed in that case, too. I was the first there and the driver’s helmet can only be described as smashed. I believe there were 10 pieces. The driver luckily escaped with a relatively minor (but nasty looking) forehead laceration. A couple more inches and it would have been different.

    • I also did not see the Fringe crash on Saturday, but from the descriptions above and Shafeeq’s forum post it sounds an awful lot like a number of other incidents — in addition to that zoo crash there was one at freerolls by SDC in fall of 2000 that was at a similar location to the Fringe crash and a PhiKap crash that had similar characteristics. In the SDC case there was a haybale which did not seem to help much when coming in head on so simply adding bales around the turn is IMO unlikely to have changed much regarding the impact in the Fringe crash. The SDC crash put additional emphasis on harnesses at the time because there was the additional issue of the driver impacting the wheel/guard that is in front of her face in a standard trike. There was talk about a standard harness at the time, but that never progressed beyond some initial discussion.

      Unlike many items (e.g. anything relying on an infinitely stiff bar) an attachment point could be created on a test panel and tested until it failed. Alumni could easily contribute to this in the design and potentially the build of such a test apparatus. We did some tests internally in the late 90s to evaluate our attachment points to see if/when/how we could cause them to fail. If there is a common, known solid, setup that all teams could copy then that would allow teams to use that attachment construction rather than each team attempting to solve this individually. If for some reason a team wanted to deviate from this known good then that attachment style should also be tested to failure or to a point of accepting a certain load without failure.

  9. Climbing harnesses (seat type) are inadequate to be used as driver harnesses because they lack the upper body retainer system needs for rapid deceleration toward the driver’s head. The OSHA standard elevated work harness goes over the shoulder and would hold a human upside down for some time. Lateral protection is not really the biggest risk for buggy driving, it’s accel/decel in the Z axis along the driver’s body.

    The human body can handle rapid acceleration/deceleration in certain axes. The force of deceleration into the curb would mostly compress the spine if held in tight by seat belt straps over the shoulder. The spine has enough soft tissue to compress in that axis without significant bone damage. This is the design behind ejection seat mechanisms in fighter aircraft. The force is applied in alignment with the spine and the soft disks compress during rapid acceleration. A human body can accelerate from to 50ft/sec in .15 secs in those systems and reliably protect the participant. This article contains some good info on this. http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/hsl_pdf/2003/hsl03-09.pdf

    Hard attachment points with seat belt type webbing should be sufficient to protect a driver in a crash provided the attachment points don’t fail. Unless you can calibrate the failure points and have them release over a specific force, they should maintain attached.

    Custom fit a harness that prevents movement in either direction in the z axis. Strap them in tight to attachment points that will not fail in a 35 mph head on crash. Keep helmets and mouth guards in. Drivers should mostly be bruised after something like this.

    • Thanks for that information, that article will be a good read. I don’t think that the drivers spine is completely aligned with the direction of travel though, the drivers neck is bent at a considerable angle to allow them to see. This is where we saw our drivers injury, she fractured her c7 vertebra which is right where the bend in the neck begins. Section 4.4 of the article you linked to discusses injury to the cervical spine when the head is not properly aligned. It says that pilots have suffered cervical spinal injuries with non-aligned heads during maneuvers of 4G and 8G. Assuming the buggy slowed from 35 mph to a stop in about 0.2s, the driver underwent about 8G, definitely enough for damage. Our driver did not make contact with anything during the accident, her helmet only had scratches from while she was being moved after the accident. This leads me to believe that her injury was due to the rapid deceleration, even with a properly fitted over the shoulder harness.

      These safety systems are very hard for college students with no experience in health and safety to design, and anything we come up with is mostly guess work. Most other sports will spend millions on designing and testing safety systems, but we don’t have that luxury. Because all buggies are prototypes, we also don’t have the ability to make sure our systems are consistent and defect free. These are issues that need to be discussed by all involved in the sport, and hopefully designs that are safe and easy to implement will be made public for the use of all teams.

    • John,

      Thanks. Yes, head placement can be difficult. Pilot head alignment was taught to be slightly up (about 10 degrees above the horizon) and would be a challenge in a buggy.

      I hope she gets better quickly. That’s a serious injury and I hope she recovers and doesn’t miss too much school.


    • Thanks for the continuing information, John. I wish the driver a speedy recovery.

      C7 is just above the shoulder, so not subject to loads from the shoulder harness. I believe the SDC driver’s fractures were slightly lower, thus the focus on harnesses at that time.

      About 5s after the crash, the driver tried to prop herself up on her elbows in the normal “getting out of the buggy” posture. A number of bystanders suggested that she lay back down, she did so, and at 15s EMS arrived and immobilized her head. Knowing now the extent of her injury, the potential consequence of that little bit of movement is terrifying. The SDC driver also got out and walked around afterwards.

      Aside from logic, I have no experience with what happens to a driver in a severe crash. Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable about things that happen quickly, so perhaps what I saw is not what actually happened.

      I suppose it _is_ possible that the driver’s helmet didn’t contact anything, but I find that extremely unlikely. In some sense, that is irrelevant because a bike helmet is meant to protect the mass of the head from hitting a solid object at bike & buggy speeds. It is when the head has to decelerate the rest of the body that neck becomes the weak link.

  10. I think the idea is for the harness to absorb the energy and it cannot do that if the mounts let go. As I recall, this is not the first time the harness attachments have failed in a fringe buggy so I am not buying the ” they would not have broken if we hit the bales” angle. I cannot reference the prior but recall it happening as did others. Methinks that anchor design has failed the test of reality. I will suggest that the push bar is typically something that is firmly attached to the buggy (when rolling) and often offers a sturdy place to secure the key harness mount (i.e. the one that keeps the drive from sliding forward). Often the push bar extends all the way to the floor offering a pillar of strength in the back of the buggy, just begging for the rear harness mount to be wrapped around it.

    After that, one needs a goodly harness. The zoo’s was not up to the task back when skua crashed hard. (stitching failure) That was a good wake up call on a something correctable. I suggest it may be time to inspect all the harnesses and help make them better. Some of them may be order than the drivers wearing them.

    This crash was of the sort where the lower front edge hit something hard. While this is common in the chute, they do not all happen that way. Way back (1980), a buggy ht the curb and bounced up and rotated about 90- deg along the long axis before hitting a parking meter. Point of impact was about 1/2 way between the top and bottom of the buggy. The structure of the lower nose did naught to protect as it missed the meter. The result was ugly. It also led in part to the modern infinitely stiff bar which is a goodly virtual parking meter and also a goodly surrogate car bumper or door sill.

    In the case of this crash, had the contact not happened at the plane of the nose, this would have had the potential to be much worse in the face of the harness mount failures. Less energy absorbed by the nose structure and little structure above that to protect the driver. This gets even bleaker when considering buggies where the driver’s head is proud of the shell and only the hatch or windshield offer protection. Hatches offer piss poor protection when attached and we have seen countless examples of them not being well attached, even on race day.

    More than a few buggies on the course have such deficiencies in their design and it is often caused by cutting the hatch opening too far back. I urge each org to really look at their front crash protection and harness systems and repair/update/ retire buggies and harnesses that do not offer substantial protection when the lower nose of the buggy is not the point of contact in an accident. (kudos to spirit for fixing their new one on this point).

    If you have a buggy you do not believe you can fix, put it in the dumpster. This would bot be the first time a buggy has been retired due to failure to meet the safety rules.( many were out after 1987s big rule change).

  11. al references I can find on seat belt material list the range 5,000-6,000 lb breaking strength. I hope Fringe missed a zero when they stated 300 lb. strap for the attachment.

  12. Cook, most teams use climbing harness webbing. I am not well versed in the standard break strength of this kind of webbing, I am fairly sure Fringe is using something the same or similar to every other team on the course including Apex. This crash has me re-evaluating my buggies and currently I feel that neither is adequately prepared for a crash like this. We will be re building our harness systems and I hope other teams consider this too

    • Our harnesses are made out of climbing harness webbing. It was only the strap that is attached to the harness with a carabiner that connects to the back of the buggy that was made of the weaker nylon. This strap had been in Banyan since 2007 and was probably quite worn. Needless to say all of our buggies are having these straps removed and replaced with stronger ones.

      • What would be the effect of starting to keep track of some of the accidents that occur and make those available to both safety chairs and the teams? I am thinking like a case book that illustrates 10 actual accidents that happened, and therefore have reasonable probability to happen again. I envision teams being able to use these cases to stop designing for the hypothetical or unlikely but instead be able to talk amongst themselves about how their buggy design would behave in each of these conditions. I envision the safety chair not having to address infinitely stiff bars and instead, make a judgement of whether the buggy would provide adequate safety in the event of these 10 accidents.

        I would further envision that we would document the failure mode (or successes) that teams have had in these accidents that teams can use when designing a solution for them. Here are three just from this year
        1. Flipped Buggy – (see Zoo this year, 2007?, etc…)
        2. Side Bale collision
        3. Direct Sidewalk impact

        • Dude check your facts. SN has flipped a buggy once–Skua in 2003. In 2007 both buggies made it thru–I should know, I drove.

          • People this isn’t hard. There are videos on this very site. Skua did not roll in 2011, it was Krait. Krait spun at chute entry, did not flip. A flip means you end on your side, a spin out, is what is sounds like.

          • Peace. Not trying to start a debate about zoo getting thru the chute. Trying to make a constructive suggestion that there are a number of cases that teams should be given to help design around and used by safety chair to evaluate. I think Connor pointed out that he needed that kind of thing when Apex got started.

            When most of us built buggies, how many serious accidents did we personally witness before doing so?

          • But you understand by misstating facts you are essentially slandering an organization and the legacy of certain teams. It’s pretty personal for me to read someone say we rolled in 2007, other people to read it an then repeat it. It implies lack of skill and poor driving. How would you feel if I said your org crashed if you were a driver, or you missed the pushbar when you were a Hill 5 on a race you were in?

            If you concern is case studies, then either generalize and just say “rolled” and not “rolled Org Z in 1988”. That or do due diligence.

  13. The intention (but not wording) of the rules is pretty clearly to keep the driver inside the buggy in any crash up to 1000lb on the nose. Crash harder than that, there’s no requirement and all of your options are bad. Ejecting the driver worked out in this case, but if it had been Men’s A rather than Women’s C, the harness would’ve slowed the driver by the same amount, leaving more to be done by the helmet against the curb. But if the harness remained attached, the nose of the buggy would’ve been subjected to more force, for longer, and thus imploded even further.

    A haybale would’ve helped. That was a low-probability but high-risk place to crash. But the buggy appeared to be in trouble as early as the monument – and nobody would’ve ever thought to place haybales on the curb up there that she was headed towards.

    Clever idea to have some of the harness loads go into the shell near the front. But I am skeptical that a harness with a single 300lb rear strap is capable of meeting the rules. Seat belt webbing is generally low-stretch fabric, and so big that it is not very stressed, so it shouldn’t stretch very much in a crash. I was shocked to discover that tubular nylon webbing can stretch by up to 30%, especially if loaded up to its breaking strength, as this one obviously was.

    There are such things as load-limiters for automotive seat belts, which basically are coils of metal or webbing that elongate plastically at a calibrated force. But they’d be useless in a buggy unless the driver had room to move forwards without hitting anything else.

    Thanks for the article, Bordick. That’s a much clearer presentation of that info than I’ve seen previously. It is unfortunate that in buggy, the major load is on the upper thorasic vertebrae, not the much more sturdy lower ones.

    If the powers that be feel the risk of injury is too high, and there isn’t much that can be done technically to reduce it, then one can look at what the motorsport world has done time and time again – alter the course with a chicane so that speeds at the most dangerous part are lower, yet it remains just as challenging.

    • The conversation of driver safety systems seems to well under-way, so I’m not going contribute to that yet.

      I see two things that would help keep the buggies and drivers safe in the event of this happening again. Full disclosure, for those who don’t know, I am a fringe alumnus. I don’t know all of the details of the accident, and I believe that it is the current Fringe members who should choose what additional knowledge to divulge, and not mine. So these comments come from me, as an observer from the chute.

      It seems that having the panther hollow bridge as a buggy run-away is extremely advantageous. During raceday, I saw two cars parked right behind the barricades. Given either a brake failure, visibility trouble, handling issues, or any other issue that would preclude the driver from either stopping or making the chute, it seems that having the bridge as a safe run-off area would be a great idea. If driver’s knew a-priori that this is always an option, they may choose not to enter the chute if anything is wrong. I was in the chute when this accident happened, and wasn’t paying attention to Banyan further up in the free-roll. But Shafeeq’s observation that her line was squirrelly early as early in the monument seems to show that the driver knew this wasn’t quite right. If a run-off was available, she may have chose that.

      Also, to expand on the brake failure scenario. Each buggy is required to do a drop test for rolls and raceday. But would it make sense to require each driver to do a full stop at the fastest and latest stopping point in the course: at the chute flag? I know that the drop test shows that the brakes are working to some level, but its conceivable that a buggy could be thrown a brake flag as late the chute flag, or the driver might elect to brake as late as the chute flag, if something isn’t quite right. I understand this would be quite onerous on the teams, as they would have to provide a pusher or pick up the buggy at the chute flag, but this might be considered at the same frequency as pass tests: once a year. This also shows that the driver can see the brake flag and recognize what to do. I’ve seen plenty of drivers fly right through a brake flag due to poor visibility.

  14. Safety Suggestions:

    1. Mandate a COTS five point harness used by auto racers. There will never be an issue with it failing to secure a 100lbs driver at 35 mph.

    2. create a test requirement for safety inspection that the restraint system attachments are required to withstand a load that is beyond anything conceivable in a real-world buggy crash. It might require building a jig to secure the buggy and apply a measured force to the attachment points using a hydraulic jack to load them, but it would be a one-time expense.

    3. To prevent future neck level spinal injuries, it might be time to go to a mandatory driver “periscope” optical vision system, so the driver can drive face down and see where they are going, and eliminate the bend in the neck. Alternate technological solutions might include video goggles and a camera in the nose of the buggy.

    The above may seem draconian, but when you consider Sweepstakes is one paralyzed (or worse) driver away from CMU cancelling them forever, it’s not that big a deal.

    • I like the periscope idea. I suppose another way to handle it would be to have a foot-first buggy, but no one’s built one of those in an awfully long time.

    • 3. Video/camera/electronic systems are probably more complicated than they need to be, and also introduce lag time. Hit a particularly nasty bump that pops out your batteries and suddenly your screen goes dark? Oops. Really, you just need a cleverly mounted mirror: http://www.belaggles.com/

      The only thing with this is that you need to be able to look around freely and not have whatever your periscope device is reduce your visibility.

      • Oh, I guess I should add that I don’t think a periscope/vision modification system is a particularly good idea, just that if you decide that you want to do this, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be (and prisms/mirrors are already pretty complicated; I had to stop mid-roll a couple of times because my goggles/helmet slipped over my face, so I can certainly imagine a mirror bouncing out of alignment).

        But I’m with McCue; field of view is probably more important than keeping the spine in alignment in case of a crash, and making the course safer is also probably more important. You need to be able to see where you’re going in order to prevent bad things from happening, and putting in more curb protection should be a better option than compromising vision.

  15. i thought the over the shoulder harness was mandatory? I know we been doing that for a very long time. In our safety design a single harness point can withstand the full load. And unlike what the cook says our harness has never failed. Helmets are designed to crack. Im pretty sure I personally unloaded her that day.

  16. Many modern feet-first derby card use a periscope made from either prisms or mirrors While the driver’s line of sight is from a point higher than most buggies provide, it is not clear is the viability provided would be sufficient for buggy as the ability to see the road directly in front of the car can be a challenge in this setup. Size wise, feet first can be smaller in frontal area than a modern buggy as they do not need to accommodate a full bike helmet.
    See cars 900, 907, 901 and 915 in the gallery for an example of prism based (901, 907)and mirror based (900, 915) periscopes. Car 907, though large, has an example of a single prism based periscope.Prisms have the advantage of not inverting the image.

    Agree with HVincent, electronics are overly complex for this job.

    Bird, while the attachment to the buggy did not fail., the harness failed in a sewn area allowing the driver to move forward. .

    • A couple things: I can imagine a couple bad things resulting from periscopes: vastly reduced visibility (especially directly ahead and in the periphery, and very especially during foggy/cold days) and a piece of hardware pointing directly at the driver’s eyes. Adding goggles might help with the second point, but at the expense of the first point. More hardware generally means more ways something can fail. Maybe a driver can weigh in, but maximizing field of vision (or visibility in general) seems more important to me here. To this point: I have seen more accidents/spins result from fog / helmet malfunction than most other causes.

      Not related to the parent comment:
      – Thanks John for being so forthcoming with the debriefing here. Thorough and accurate analysis (this coming from the person who safetied Banyan as a new buggy).
      – Also strong agreement to the pope’s earlier point that the pushbar tends to make for a very, very good attachment point.
      – I am indeed worried about items in front of the driver during a crash. I have seen two bad injuries happen from this on reverse trike buggies. Recessing or covering hardware does much to alleviate this, and is thankfully the case in many newer reverse trikes. KDR covered everything around the front hardware with insulating foam for the driver to lay on, which was pretty bootleg and made the buggy taller and is like the least efficient solution to this problem ever, but it did effectively make the inside of the buggy flush for the most part and the plane of the driver slightly above any hardware, including steering handles. On trikes, I could imagine problems were this same crash to happen (not to say any trikes I’ve seen have any issues; teams that currently run trikes that I’ve seen have exemplary safety systems, but so does Fringe).

      • My thesis is: at some point the best bang for your buck in terms of safety is to make the course safer rather than the buggy. Potholes and haybale coverage (or even replacing haybales with something better) are harder problems to address, but you get much better results.

        Not to say there’s nothing that can be done in the buggy, but that’s just my opinion as to where effort should be spent.

  17. I’m surprised no one has yet noticed that both the Fringe and Zoo crashes were in reverse trikes so the driver just had the windshield in front of her. I shudder to think what would have happened in a standards trike where the harness failed….

    A lot of standard trike orgs have a wheel cover between the driver and the wheel, but it often isn’t fixed and can rotate up. I also see almost no value in the ‘run off’. Most drivers have never practiced it or been told the proper way to use it. We simple don’t know at what speed our wheels will give out, so we can’t reliably make a judgement call on if we should continue to the chute, break, or take the outlet. On race day all drivers just fall back to muscle memory and hope the worst that happens is a spin out into the bales.

    • There’s no option for a standard trike except to make sure the harness doesn’t fail before the buggy. Period.

      I’ve seen buggies take the bridge run-off once every couple of years, but never intentionally – either the driver couldn’t see, so couldn’t tell where she ended up, or the steering failed, so the driver had no choice where she ended up. Still, parking cars on the bridge as has become common turns a rare and harmless event into a rare and dangerous one.

      • There should be no option for any buggy except to make sure that the harness does not fail. We’re all lucky that Fringe’s ‘structural hatch’ was held on with magnets or whatever so that the driver didn’t end up wadded into the nose of the shell.

        I agree that parked cars need to be banned for anyplace a buggy could get to at raceday speed. I don’t think that we can reasonably expect a buggy to protect a driver in the event of a ‘submarining’ crash.

        • Our hatches are bolted in. All attachments ripped out in the accident. I assume most teams hatches would eject in such an event.

  18. I don’t want to detract from the discussion about safety, but are there any other thoughts on 2014 raceday at all? Registration for the forums isn’t really working for me (as some others have also noted) so I figured might as well post here.

    Some potentially interesting areas of discussion off the top of my head:

    -Sig Ep choosing Kraken over Barracuda as A team buggy (note the tiny 3 and 4 second differences between Men’s and Women’s A and B teams respectively,and significantly slower Men’s and Women’s A team times compared to last year)

    -Thoughts/predictions on where Men’s PikA A and SDC B would have finished if they made it through the chute

    -Apex A exhibition heat putting up a 2:21 with Phoenix (not Ember), good for 6th place if it were an official heat

    -CIA being screwed over in the freeroll on multiple occasions

    -Was there a PikA chute flagger? If so was he flagging correctly?

    • I see PiKA A finishing ahead of SDC B if they made it through the chute based on the times seen in the video. If both PiKA A and SDC B made it through the chute my predictions would be:
      1-SDC A (same crazy time)
      2-PiKA A 2:10
      3-SDC B 2:12
      4-SigEp A same

      SDC B and SigEp A have had similar speed backhills to PiKA A in recent years and PiKA A is already a couple seconds ahead at the chute flagger. Which brings me to my next point…PiKA A HAD A CHUTE FLAG OUT THERE. The chute flag was put out before Banshee reached the monument and lifted about 2 buggy lengths before the buggy got to its mark (necessary to make sure you don’t hit your buggy). I was in the lead truck taking video of the PiKA A run and I checked my video to confirm after hearing the radio comments. The cmu tv footage seems to do a poor job showing 2 lengths in front of the buggy. If you pause the video at 3:13:11 you can see a glimpse of the PiKA chute flagger just after he pulled the flag out of the way.

      • Fringe harnesses do go over the shoulder. And there was no mention at all of the jaws of life. Read John’s posts more carefully.

      • Bruner, you are probably correct in terms of “could-have”. If that had happened, then Sig Epp would be very sad about their A vs B buggy choices. baracudda smoked kraken and thus A team lost time to b team. As it ended up, it did not cost them. Tough call to make when rolls are in short supply. Someone self-inflicted in this case as kracken was not out as often as it could have been,

        • Not sure where you’re getting that SDC is the only org to avoid crashes. SDC has been spinning pretty regularly during rolls this semester. CIA didn’t have any DQs this year and if I recall correctly none last year either. Also, we would have had 6th place in men’s this year if PiKA hadn’t gotten that reroll, and I still don’t understand why they got it, and to make it worse during the reroll Pike interfered with us again.

      • -SDC is the only organization to consistently put in a great time from their A, B, C and D teams. Every other organization seems to have crashes, mechanical problems and dq’s. This year was unique in that their B and C crashed which made me wonder if the stability in their program was lost. I wasn’t wondering for very long, a 2:04 time is down-right absurd comparing the competition. I wonder, if the roads weren’t as bad, and the race last year (2013) was not cold, would they have topped their 2:03 record. Another quick point, I think their five this year pulled his hammy near the end of the hill. Doubt they would have improved much more than their time but they might have beaten the 2:04.00 mark. PiKA free-rolls were looking promising before the crash and looked to be the only competition (At least to that point).

        -PiKA. Due to my affiliation I will not divulge as much about what I know but I can say, running a program without a house showed in the last three years. I was the last chair with a house and I cannot imagine the struggle it took to get participation and build a buggy during the last three years. Banshee was built after Raptor and had put stop sign times of 52 seconds (2013) and 51 seconds (2014). I am excited to see what the actives can do with a house. I can only imagine a more robust, clean and smooth running program moving forward. That being said for the three years without a house, the times and splits they have put up have been extraordinary. Ready for a PiKA comeback.

        -Fringe. What happened to them? My senior year (2011) they ran a low 2:05 if I remember correctly. Where did all that speed go? What happened to Bonsai? Did losing KDR members, hurt some of their recruitment channels? Has the road conditions affected Fringe more than other organizations? 2:12+ doesn’t sound right.

        -SigEp A vs. B. Why did Barracuda not run A? I assume they would have been closer to 2:10-2:12 based on the commentary on downhill speeds. Last four-five years they have competed and beaten PiKA for the fraternity time. As far as innovation goes, have they changed wheels, steering mechanisms anything else to note? Are they going to take that leap back on the right side of 2:10 like last year and consistently stay there? That being said, props to SigEp for consistency. They have not made silly mistakes as of late.

        -Spirit. I have to believe they can get their downhill times improved. At the same time, their pushers do not look as beastly as the old videos from the 80s/90s. Not sure what to make of it, but as an alum I would love to see some fight from Spirit to get back in the 2:10-2:15 range.

        -CIA/SigNu/Apex: Want to see them improve as well. The faster the buggy teams overall the more exciting the races. 2008/2009/2011 were damn entertaining for a reason.

    • Why did PiKA B get a reroll anyway? And why did they not sub in their unused A team hill 3-4-5 pushers and move up a place or two?

      The mixed reroll heat was a clever solution, but the problem with the PiKA B & CIA A reroll should’ve been obvious from their prelim times. There was plenty of time to cut the heat spacing and fit in 4 reroll heats.

      Sad for SN going out the same way two years in a row.

      Good job to Apex, putting up a time that while not good for a trophy in most other years, would at least get to finals.

  19. most of you have no idea what your talking about. Yah lets go to periscope’s since a few alumni do derby. Yah that the solution. While at it lets stop turning. Hell why do we even have an uphill part. Add more bales and make sure the harness system works. How did fringe ever get away with using a harness system that did not go over the shoulder. The stupid PIKA safety chair should answer that. Build a pan that can withstand a crash. But that would assume that that other orgs know what they are doing. Yes i’m a dick but ive never hurt a driver for a reason ask anyone that has driven for me or driven one of our buggies. How can you take a chairmen seriously when he makes the post that the fringe chairmen made. He actually tried to argue that the driver should not have been removed with a jaws a life. How can these people be taken seriously. I can show you show our safety system but that would imply you would know what to do with it Its amazing we lose to you oh wait the only part that matters is having track people.

    • The PIKA safety chair was too busy telling Sigma Nu they could not hang a tarp up in their truck because its flammable.

      • That was the fire marshall’s call, not the safety chair. Furthermore, fringe harnesses *do* go over the shoulder.

    • Just because a driver never got hurt on your watch doesn’t mean your safety mechanisms didn’t have a weakness that might have been exposed in a full speed crash. I have a feeling all buggies have weaknesses they don’t even consider.

    • Ric if your safety system is as good as you claim it is and you aren’t telling the rest of the course about it then you are putting more people at risk to continue being, as you said yourself, a dick. Honestly I am amazed we don’t have a more standardized harness system. New teams that have never seen crashes aren’t going to design buggies with things like curb impacts in mind because they won’t believe it would ever happen. I would know, I was part of a group who founded one. Its been seeing crashes over the last two year that has led to our current harness system and I believe it is still not up to snuff. Who ever is safety chair next year needs to take it more seriously because the past year was definitely a bit lax.

      • Standardized harnesses were proposed in the 80’s, but I am told that no reputable manufacturer was willing to accept the liability of producing them. And as much of the problem is attaching the harness to the buggy, which isn’t standardized.

        The rulebook exists to force new or forgetful teams to plan for crashes & problems discovered by someone else’s painful experience. That assumes teams can engineer a working solution, and that the safety chair can detect inadequate solutions. Often, neither of those is true. Nobody sets out to be unsafe, yet people are human, and it happens. The hazards of the course don’t care what your intentions were, only what you did.

        • Shafeeq
          April 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

          Standardized harnesses were proposed in the 80′s, but I am told that no reputable manufacturer was willing to accept the liability of producing them.

          A couple comments:

          1. They sell to NASCAR and every other form of auto racing. It makes no sense they would not sell to gravity racers who never exceed 40 mph. And besides, they’ll never know they’re going in a buggy instead of race car. You order them from a racing supply house, and and give them your credit card number, and UPS delivers them to your door. They have no way of knowing what vehicle you are going to put them in. General Aviation suppliers also sell equivalent harness systems.

          2. There’s no need to buy them new. There are certain classes of auto racing that require the safety harnesses be replaced EVERY YEAR. That means there is going to be a batch of one-year old 5 point safety harnesses that the racers cannot use again (they have a date code on them) at the end of their racing season each year. They’d be happy to sell them for a nominal price (or perhaps can be convinced to donated them free.)

          I installed a Simpson 5-point harness in SAE’s “Intrepid” about 20 years ago; I got the harness from a friend who was an auto racer, who had obtained it from another auto racing team that had had a fire in the race car, and the belts were ever so slightly toasted. They would not pass a Racing safety inspection, but sure were plenty strong enough for use in a buggy.

          • Racing 5-point racing harnesses are indeed very sturdy products, but are intended for a seated driver. They can be bought and adapted to be used in a buggy, but if one fails, the manufacturer will claim it was not used as directed.

            Manufacturing a custom harness intended for a prone-position driver was the task nobody was willing to perform, at least at a price CMU was willing to pay at the time.

  20. sorry that I was not clear. too much polite corporate speach lately. periscope is a bad idea. makes some sense if feet first but will likely suck due to feet blocking view of road close to buggy.

  21. Rip on Ultimate Speed Challenge ✓
    Blame someone in sweepstakes ✓
    “My org knows better” ✓
    “You only win because you have better pushers” ✓
    Creative use of capitalization and punctuation. ✓

    Excellent troll. 9.5/10, Would rage again

  22. I think something that’s been missed in terms of driver safety is heat selection. There were a number of heats that had buggies neck and neck going into the chute. If that first buggy spun out, the likelihood of the second buggy hitting the first is extremely high. It would be very hard for a driver to break in time, and even if she did, she would probably spin out from breaking too quickly. With that said, if the second buggy spins out, it’s extremely likely that the second will hit the first, with the driver having no way to anticipate that. While that didn’t happen this weekend, it’s something to consider for heat selection next. As of right now, hill 1 & 2 times are not taken into account, but that is a major factor in determining how close the buggies will be in the chute. While rosters aren’t due until after heat selection, it’s still something worth considering for the future.

    • brake (verb)
      to slow or stop by means of or as if by means of a brake.

      break (verb)
      to smash, split, or divide into parts violently; reduce to pieces or fragments

      Sorry – it was just too much.

    • So for every year besides this one, hill 1 times were THE talk, most people knew how the free roll would go so heat selection was all about who would be over the hill first.

      This year was the first year that I had sat in on heat selection and never once heard someone ask about hill one times except for the one time that I brought it up, and that was only one heat. I think it’s pretty clear now what happens when teams don’t try to sort this out ahead of time.

      One thing to note is that this year sweepstakes also held Heat selections earlier this year, but only by a week. While times might change a bit over the week it should change more uniformly and not by much, so this extra week should only help teams prepare better for their heats.

      • I’m glad to hear this year was more of an anomaly than the norm. It was just something I had noticed and I figured with so much safety talk, it’s something that should be brought up.

        • Yeah, I honestly don’t know why we race head-to-head when I would imagine that a staggered start would be a lot safer.

          • Hmm, that’s actually a really good idea for rerolls due to “racing incidents” – you know they’re going to be close, and you don’t want/have time for separate heats, so start each lane 10s apart. It is slightly more work for the the timing system, but it can be configured for that. No chance for interference, and it only takes 20s more time, instead of 7-10min for another heat.

          • We race head to head because the competition has its roots in head to head. In fact, there are photos of 15 buggies at the start line together.

            The other challenge would be time. Heats put more buggies in place together. Single stream flow could work, but any chute wipeout would affect more buggies than today. With a 20 sec staggered start, the chute turn hits around 1:20, so 6 buggies would need to be stopped after a wreck, maybe 7. That’s a lot of rerolls.

          • We already have (and seeding is supposed to produce) the situation where the slowest team in a heat takes 10-15s longer to get over the hill than the fast team. If two teams are putting up identical hill 1 times, having one of them remain stationary for 5-10s first doesn’t change the logistics of the race – the lead truck goes before the first buggy, the follow truck behind the last one. The pushers still get to see their competition, but they’ll never be close enough to get in each other’s way.

            This year’s rerolls had 2 women’s and 4 men’s teams with close times. There’s no way to fit them into 3 heats without somebody getting tangled.

            Going to a pure time-trial format would be fairer & safer, but so much more boring. Going to a head-to-head elimination format would be a lot more exciting, but result in far more carnage.

  23. Umm. Isn’t the brake system supposed to stop the buggy without losing control? Did I miss that somewhere?

    • We’ve seen many teams have braking issues from SIG ep to sae to Cia. They all pass capes but none can stop without locking the rear wheel, fish tailing and usually spinning or hitting a curb. Aka capes are not an effective test.

      • From what I understand, front brakes won’t spin. I’ve seen Ascension (has rear brakes) spin during capes if the driver is too short for the buggy and so there isn’t enough ground pressure on the rear wheel, otherwise afaik it isn’t an issue.

        On some of our frame-and-shell buggies (now retired) we have used drop brakes. They’re reliable, stop the buggy immediately, and never cause a spin. Perhaps front brakes or drop brakes should be required?

        Personally, I think a better system would just be to have sweepstakes do random chute flag tests during rolls. Safety chair tells the team’s flagger to issue a stop flag and the driver has to stop. If the driver doesn’t stop or spins, that buggy/driver combo has to re-cape before rolling again.

        • A shorter driver doesn’t make Ascension spin, that’s just how any rear brake, reverse trike works. see SigEp, AEPi, Apex, they all work the same.

          Drop breaks are good, but don’t necessarily cause a smooth stop, that’s just how it worked because those frame and shell buggies were all forward trikes.

          Random chute flag stops could be dangerous and could take rolls away from teams that need them. While not a terrible idea for testing, it’d ideally not happen during rolls, though I’m not sure when else it would happen…

    • This is an awesome thread – lots of good discussion and lots of discipline/flaming of trolls.

      Shafeeq was right that Sweepstakes did, in the late 80’s, look into commissioning a standard harness. I don’t know who all they approached – probably mostly local shops – but it’s correct that no one wanted anything to do with the idea once they heard about buggy. Maybe it’s worth trying that again if, per Elmo, you can now get something customized. Of course, Elmo also employed a used, slightly charred harness, which seems not quite right to me (though I’m admittedly no harness expert). Also, was SAE serious about buggy 20 years ago (certainly the original Intrepid was way older than that)? I’ve lost track of when SAE effectively stopped caring…

      Lots of the points in this thread have been discussed before – there’s (almost) nothing new under the sun. To Bordick’s point, you can design very effective brakes for trykes and reverse trykes – it’s usually the implementation that screws things up (e.g. for reverse trykes, in particular, getting the weight properly balanced is critical – lots of people have screwed that up – even those that supposedly knew better – so don’t smirk as you read this). Actually, implementation is pretty much always the problem with buggy. I’ve certainly seen buggies brake in the chute to avoid an accident but the thought of it is scary. And, of course, I always had the sense that things are happening way too quickly (someone made the point about relying on “muscle memory” and just kind of hoping for the best – that was my sense as well) – drivers RARELY brake.

      Getting chute flaggers to give the brake flag once in a while to see who’s paying attention might not be a bad idea, but then we’re still likely talking about a time when the driver isn’t attempting to turn. Asking a driver, for a test, to try and brake in the chute at anything like race conditions doesn’t seem like a good idea – there are other tests people have discussed about checking for buggy stability that would be safer.

      Someone mentioned having an open dialog at heat selection to avoid accidents, and this is extremely important. Of course, many years that just didn’t happen (when I was involved and subsequently – I know because I asked about it for a while. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s – maybe we could call those the “slow years”, when there were far fewer buggies – it probably mattered less). When we did heat selections, in the early 90’s, the Pikes were in the back of the room and we would kind of look at them when a race seemed to be tight for their nod yes or no, since they were the only ones who had times on everyone. Even the chairpeople themselves were often delusional about what times they were going to roll, or how fast they would be over the hill.

      • My comments about the safety harness in Intrepid refers to what I did with it AFTER it was liberated from the SAE garage, long after it was retired from competition in Sweepstakes (IOW, off campus, alumnus experimentation to rejuvenate the buggy for my own amusement.) Nothing was customized; it was a COTS Simpson 5 point racing harness that I got used (albeit slightly toasted) for free, and installed with minor modifications to the buggy.

        The point of my story is to show that it is feasible to use such COTS safety harnesses, which would surely be strong enough to withstand any accident a buggy could conceivably be involved in, short of hopping over the railing of the Panther Hollow bridge and falling several hundred feet to the bottom.

        I reiterate my suggestion that the attachments for all safety hardware be tested in some sort of testing jig purpose built for the Safety Chairman. Use the numbers for an uncushioned impact at 50 mph into the curb (or light post, or bridge abutment) to determine the loads that should be the minimum values. The cost of fabbing the jig would be a one-time expense.

      • When I was head judge in… 2001? the first day of rolls was a clusterfuck but it got rained out. So I had the Sweepstakes ass chair, a Pike, call the PiKA buggy chair and he came over with all of their times and we put together the heats for Saturday so as to minimize the carnage.

        I was kind of dick about it tho, so I’m not surprised that sort of thing hasn’t caught on.

  24. So, I can’t get the forums to work either, but I remember there was a cmubuggy subreddit a while ago. Maybe it might be easier to track everyone’s different conversation threads/topics if people are interested in talking there instead of all on this one thread. Or not, whatever is easier for everyone.


  25. I know I’m not the olderst fart to add to this thread…Mark and his Cook are here…but I’m sure they support the fact that buggies do have brakes (Thanks Dick) and they are suppose to work. I will not venture to guess what ailed the Fringe entry, but whole heartly support practicing ‘stopping’ as beneficial, but let’s leave that up to the organizations to manage please I was very happy to hear the Fringe driver is going to be OK, that is the best news we’ve heard in this thread over the past few days. Thanks for being open with the status report John and please do continue to share the lessons learnt with the community through official channels.

    Shafeeq – Pika B got a re-roll because the Sweepstakes Committee doesn’t know the rules. That in itself should tell you the state of our sport. I’ll challenge Sweepstakes to go out and find Chris Hanson &/or Geno Costintino (for whom the 1st place tophies are named) and ask them how they ran Sweepstakes back in the day. Safety would be more strongly stressed and organizations would meet the requirements or they wouldn’t be on the course. With the minimal number of participating organizations out there…we’d have fewer. The sport needs help to rebuild variety in the competitors, that know and abide by the rules, and compete for fun and thrill of it.

    Mr. Adler (Hey Matt!) and Carl…thanks for the remarks regarding Pika being in the know regarding the big picture. Yes, we use to have good data on the performance of everyone. What’s surprising is that nobody else does..or has offered to share that knowledge to make the sport safer. Things are a bit harder these days for the Pikes, but we’ve certianly lead the way in the past. Tom Wood (and Lou Conley of CIA) are very influencial when it comes to matters of safety…and the sport is far better for it. Listen to them! We need more of this! Stagnation on safety is not acceptable.

    The challenge the Pike chapter has faced over the past 3 years was sizable. We’re proud they still competed! It hasn’t been easy! The program will get back to their past proficient ways, I only hope we see more Greeks org come back to the what has got to be the best intramural competition on any collegiate campus. New Greek orgs need to be enouraged to compete. The lady Greeds need to get in the game…there are no gender rules limiting participation that I can recall. And ‘old houses’ with ‘new chapters’ need to get back to business. Alunni can help drive this…I’m specifically looking to the Delts. If you need help…ask! We WANT the field to increase in scale and scope. Numbers and safe execution are good for our sport! Please don’t ‘f’ it up..if you don’t know…please don’t pretend. Ask someone who does…we all want this to continue for many years to come.

    Now..where’s my next beer, this has taken longer than I thought ti would. Damn I’m getting old…glad Mark is always here, makes me feel better!

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