Rolls Report: April 8 – Why is it still snowing?!

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Pittsburgh’s weather didn’t get the memo about how close Carnival is and how desperately teams need Rolls, and it decided to snow on Friday night. Teams awoke to a film of icy snow covering the roads and Sweepstakes was forced to cancel. Fortunately, the precipitation held off the following evening and the course was clear, but cold, for Sunday. RoboBuggy didn’t seem to mind the chill in the air and rolled throughout the day with the rest of the teams. The first human Roll was delayed until 7:30 in hopes that the sun might raise the temperature a bit. It reached a balmy 28F.

In Attendance 

Org Sunday
Apex Firefly, Phoenix, Ember, BakedPotato
CIA Impulse, Equinox, Tempest
Fringe Boson, Blueshift, Bissa, Bolt, Bumper
PhiDelt Argo
PiKA Banshee
SDC  Inferno, Malice, Vice, Avarice
SigEp Kraken, Barricuda, Beyonce, Hydra
Spirit  Inviscid, Zuke, King Pin, Seraph

Observations (Sunday Gallery)

There is not much to report from Sunday’s Buggy antics. SigNu and SAE were no-shows and will be scrambling to get their drivers qualified over truck weekend, needing 13 and 11 more Rolls plus a pass test each. While the weather is looking promising, it will be a tight squeeze for these two teams, if not impossible to be qualified for Raceday.

Apex provided most of the unfortunate excitement that bookended practice. On their first roll, Ember rolled to a stop near the stop sign for unknown reasons. The driver refused to let EMS assess her and was pushed the rest of the way through her Roll. During their final Roll, the steering on BakedPotato (NB2018) broke on Hill 4 and the driver hit the curb. EMS reported that the driver was fine, although this isn’t looking good for Apex’s new Buggy.

SigEp and SDC were out in force, each running 4 Buggies (that’s right… SigEp’s Hyrdra is back on the course). Fringe, however, again takes the trophy for most ambitious team and were fielding 5 Buggies. The teams managed their fleets well, save for two small hiccups. Vice (of SDC) miscalculated on one of her Chute lines and turned way too early. While for a brief panicked moment she was on a path to the bales, she corrected. While she was safe from the hay bales, she nailed the grate. Thank goodness for mouth guards. On what would turn into the final Roll of the day, one of the Fringe Buggies came to stop in the Freeroll. EMS checked out the driver and all was well, but the reason for the stoppage wasn’t clear.

Spirit, CIA, PiKA and PhiDelt all had trouble-free Rolls. The former three are looking competitive for Raceday, but, like everyone, need some practice at speed to see how things will shake out. The cold, wet weather has kept everyone moving slow.

As per usual, there will be no Rolls report next week, save for any timing data the BAA collects. But, keep an eye for the Raceday Preview! Have you updated/renewed your membership yet?

Below is a running total of buggy/driver roll counts:
*indicates New driver | Pass Test Completed | Fully Qualified


Team Buggy Driver Fall Rolls Spring Rolls
Apex Firefly Sam 9
Bethany* 5
Ari* 1 7
Phoenix Ari* 3
Vicki* 8 6
Bethany* 2 5
Ember Bethany* 6
Hot Potato Sam 4
CIA Orca Vicky 2
Tanvi* 6
Emperor Rachel* 22 7
Icarus Rishi* 7
Impulse Yushuan 2
Rachel* 3
Kevin* 3
Bonnie* 6
Equinox Emily 16 10
Tempest Kady 26 10
Fringe Boson Helen 13 8
Blueshift Amy 14 11
Nina 8
Bissa Tishya* 11 6
Nina 8
Bolt Sarah* 13 9
Bumper Nina 13
PhiDelt Argo Sarah 2
Adeline 2 6
PiKA Cliodhna Victoria 18 8
Taylor 1
Banshee Victoria 2 5
Raptor Archana 1 2
SAE  New Buggy  Lawrence* 4
SDC Inferno Annie 21 12
Kyoko 3
Malice Annie 3
Kyoko 18 12
Vice Elaine* 16 15
Avarice Amanda* 16  10
Bane Amanda* 1
SigEp Beyonce Nazil
Haiwen* 11 3
Kraken Nazli 6 6
Haiwen* 2
Barricuda Sophie 7 2
Beccy* 8
Hydra Beccy* 6
SigNu Krait Claire*
Alana* 2
Spirit Seraph Rebecca
Sarah* 8 8
Lillie* 6
Zuke Diamond 20 7
Kingpin Rebecca* 17 8
Sarah* 1
Inviscid Beichen 15 10
Menes Sarah 3

Rolls Report Contributors:
Natalie M.

19 thoughts on “Rolls Report: April 8 – Why is it still snowing?!”

  • Friendly neighborhood Frinja says:

    To clarify, the last Fringe roll stopped bc Pittsburgh’s pothole wrath came for Bissa

  • Back in my day.. Get off my Lawn...I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those pesky kids says:

    Strange priorities…..

    Buggy finds itself in a deep hole trying to get enough rolls / experience before race day. There wasa total of ~7 drivers with 8 or more spring rolls and quite a few with 4 or less as of dawn on Sunday. They were all at the course and rolls were possible. Curiously, they choose to delay rolling because it was too cold. Am I reading that right? if so, it seems like priorities are backwards. The rolls lost by waiting for warmth would be a significant % of the total spring rolls for many drivers.

    Perspective, Practice rolls were once highly valued.. teams worked hard to try to get in just one more roll every weekend. We rolled both weekends of spring break. We never called off for cold. Wet? yes. Solid wetness? Yes. Cold? No.

    When we wanted extra rolls, which was all the time, we would work the system to make it happen. For example, a team could line up a buggy at the drop line to stake out an early spot in the roll order in hopes of getting in one more roll. Back then, the orgs rolled in the order of each org’s first buggy to pass drops that day. This often meant that you had a person from your org, sitting with a buggy in front of the gym for several days through all sorts of weather in order to secure a chance at an extra roll. This was a huge challenge to many orgs, yet it happened often. Rolls mattered. More rolls, = more confidence, more chances to learn, and increased safety as the learning curve is not as steep.

    • The bigger mystery is why weren’t these teams that desperately need rolls out when we had first rolls before spring break and it was actually quite nice? How about last week when several of these teams chose to not attend Sunday?

      I’m with you on the spring break stuff, but buggy has to fight against a lot of other activitiesnow, more than it did from the time that you’re talking about, and all those support roles around the course have to suffer through the cold and would just as soon not come out if they didn’t want to risk frostbite. The cold doesn’t bother the drivers (much), but it makes a huge difference to everyone that’s keeping them safe. 30 minutes isn’t the difference between qualification or not, choosing to not go out to rolls that are happening is.

      Also, lining up at the drop line a week ahead of time was idiotic and I can’t thank Anne Witchner enough for ending that ridiculous practice.

      • Old Man Bordick says:

        Frostbite? Come on. Who goes to school in Pittsburgh without decent cold-weather gear?

        Agree that waiting at the gym for roll order was stupid, and I’m glad it’s done, but not rolling because, Brrr, it’s chilly and 45 minutes later, that 4 degree jump is much better is just plain “lack of interest.”

        Many teams don’t really want to win. If you wanted to win, then you would want to roll.

  • Back in my day.. Get off my Lawn...I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those pesky kids says:

    not saying the drop test thing was smart or good ( it was neither) . just putting into perspective how important rolls used to be vs now. It was dumber that the plastic bag thing, which is dumb.

    Agree that orgs who do not show up, deserve naught in terms of sympathy. However, it would be a shame for those who have put in the effort to not make the show. That seems unlikely. I am more concerned with the teams that are actually participating getting up to race day levels of readiness, as in safe and ready for full speed. No one is up to speed yet and that is shocking going into truck weekend. 2- up prelims should take some of the pressure off in terms of close races but the finals will match fast buggies with one thing in common, a lack of experience.

  • Was not last Sunday fairly wet? Wet enough to have been cancelled in years past.

    The wisdom of sending your only buggy and inexperienced driver around a damp course in order to meet a “safety” qualification is … questionable. The logic might be different for a larger or more experienced team.

    Standing around is no fun, standing around when it is cold is even less fun, but it’s hardly the Arctic. “Make sure your flaggers are wearing enough to be comfortable” is a simple task compared to many of the steps in a buggy program.

    Even last weekend, the A drivers from the major teams looked like they didn’t _need_ additional practice to race adequately. So other than their qualification requirements, it is the inexperienced drivers on large teams, and any drivers on small teams that have a reason to use every possible roll. That hasn’t been the case in all years.

  • What is being missed is that a few years ago a sweepstakes rule was passed saying rolls would not happen below 32 degrees. While I fully agree this rule should have been broken on the 3 dry but cold days that were cancelled, there is a continuing trend each year of teams worried about being qualified rather then focusing on speed. This year, there are teams who have been to every day of rolls this semester (Apex, CIA, Spirit, Pike) who dont have all of their drivers qualified going into truck weekend.

    My 2 cents lets change the driver qualification process. A driver earns a “license” by doing a certain number of rolls at varying speeds (slow to full), show she can stop safely at a stop flag, and does a pass test. Once the license has been earned, she no longer has to “qualify” as long as she maintains a certain number of rolls in a given school year (say she gets 10 rolls in 2019 her license is still good in 2020).

    If we want to maintain the needed qualifying rolls for a driver in a given buggy to make sure it is safe with that driver/buggy combo I would not be opposed to that, but for a driver who has 4 years experience and is in the same buggy for the last 3 years, I don’t see why a team should have to worry about her being qualified to roll or needing pass tests. Also motivates teams to show up in the fall so they can get drivers qualified then, and focus only on having a safe race day in the spring.

  • The qualification rules could likely be adjusted to better fit the new reality of “a few teams, some large & focused, some small and ambivalent.”

    But keep in mind that the “same” buggy & driver may not be the same over time – they both can change in size, shape, weight and condition, so past results may not predict future ones. And does sweepstakes track changes closely enough to know when a buggy has changed enough that a new qualification is required?

    Clearly, recency matters, so a driver needs some spring practice in the buggy she’ll be racing in. Similarly, a buggy needs some number of spring rolls to show the mechanics haven’t screwed it up over the winter.

    I’ve always felt the pass test was a waste of time, since real passes are at a smaller speed difference than the staged passes in a pass test. Moving that to the fall would give more incentive to show up then, and free up the spring for only focusing on speed.

  • Back in my day.. Get off my Lawn...I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those pesky kids says:

    “What is being missed is that a few years ago a sweepstakes rule was passed saying rolls would not happen below 32 degrees.”

    what the actual?

    • I don’t remember anything actually getting passed, but I do know most chairs use 20 degrees as the limit

  • Elmo Zoneball says:

    Race Day 1976(?) Heat 1 Mens prelims went off with the temperature at ~28F.

    If you might have to race in sub-freezing temps, it logically follows that you ought to practice in sub-zero temps.

  • T Felmley (Troll from the Hills) says:

    INPUT: Yes, a recent “rule” was that below 32 there are no rolls. In desperation, this semester that rule was dropped to 26. There were still days that did not make that cutoff. Hindsight is always 20/20, but “normally” the weather breaks well before now, this has been an exceptionally cold Spring, even for da ‘Burgh. Even with 30+ years of involvement, I do not remember any Spring like this.
    Since the late 90’s, there has been an attempt to start rolls in mid-February, which was partially an attempt to counter the lack of Spring Break rolls. FYI, it was either in the teens or low 20s or snowing every day of both weekends of Spring Break this year.
    Sunday was DRY, but cold.
    COMMENTARY: Seriously, going around the course at that low a temperature is virtually pointless, and truly makes support personnel and the less committed team members question their involvement. I don’t know about you guys, but I stand in the chute regularly. It is NOT FUN when it is below freezing and you only have your buggy fever to keep you warm. As a pusher, you get warmed by your effort, and then get the heck off the Hills. Mechanics mainly inside. Chair: in the car or running around like an idiot. But stand still for 2+ hours with a radio or a flag? FTS
    That being said, I think Sweeps can push harder to keep things rolling smoother, push up against the ending time a bit more. The cutting of a half hour off the front really was a lame choice and could make or break a team. All you have to do is look at the hourly forecast for that time of day and see you only gain maybe a degree.
    I am not opposed to racing in the cold (It snowed the morning Quantum Leap set its record), but super frigid just takes all the fun out and causes dumb mistakes, like duck tape failures, windshield/goggle fogging.

  • I saw a speed trap set up in the transition this weekend. Any hope for some of that sweet sweet data to over-analyze?

    Also as someone who spent the entire day in the inside of the chute, I do say there may be some exciting driving come raceday. Shame I won’t be there next weekend for Truck but hopefully I can still provide some insights from the chute tower early on!

  • Is sweepstakes planning to honor any appeals? Two years ago appeal requests were met with a solid “what is that…” response. Too often recently it feels like everyone is on the same page regarding safety, but the rules are taken too close to the letter.

  • T Felmley (Troll from the Hills) says:

    Speaking of rules, can we get the most current set posted here before Race Day?
    I understand that there are some changes, like no need for (freeroll) follow car, other things.
    The ones I see on this have a last edit date of 2014.

Comments are closed.