It was a cold Saturday morning, with temps were hovering just around freezing and overcast skies hid the sun. Road conditions have not improved as the freeze-thaw cycle of a typical Pittsburgh winter continues to chew up the concrete around Flagstaff Hill. Sweepstakes appeared to resort to drying the course with a roll of paper towels prior to rolls.
Teams seemed to be scared away by the low temperatures and attendance on Sunday with only PiKA, SDC, Fringe, CIA, Spirit and Robobuggy turning up to roll. In addition all the teams were generally sticking with 1 – 2 buggies per roll. With all those factors we completed a whopping 8 full roll-orders.
|CIA||Emperor, Equinox, Icarus, Aurora||Emperor, Equinox, Icarus|
|Fringe||Bumper, NBXIX||Bumper, Boson, NBXIX|
|PiKA||Banshee||Cliodhna, Banshee, Raptor|
|SDC||Malice, Bane, Avarice, Vice||Bane, Vice|
|Spirit||Inviscid, Seraph, KingPin, Mapambazuko||Inviscid, Seraph, KingPin|
Apex: On Saturday Apex was out with a bunch of their buggies on a rack, but only Azula found its way onto the pavement for any practice time. On Sunday the team slept in! Apex roll counts are still looking very light for this time in the year and with their roster of drivers being stacked mostly with rookies they should be looking to squeeze in every last buggy morning out of the few weekends that we have left.
CIA: Clad in trash bags and constructed with a very unique and questionable silhouette CIA brought a new buggy out this week: “Aurora”. Has the dropping push bar returned? Have the young members of CIA forgotten the lessons of the past? CIA was consistently rolling 3-5 buggies but was been unable to find a follow car for the weekend. Unfortunately, this compounded an issue with a misinformed flagger on Saturday. During their first roll, the chute flagger was accidentally throwing a stop flag. Equinox (first buggy) rolled through, but Emperor coasted to a stop (as she should have). The transition flagger didn’t throw the stop flag in time, and Tempest rolled up next to Emperor. Dealing with the stops left rolls on hold as sweepstakes worked through the issue. Sunday went better for CIA, they scaled back the number of buggies, never rolling more than 3 at a time, Aurora stayed at home and there were no incidents. With the increased pace of practice Rachel in Emperor logged her 50th roll for the year! Emily in Equinox and Janet in Icarus aren’t far behind with more than 40 rolls a piece in those buggy/driver combinations. CIA has completed pass tests on 5 driver/buggy combinations making them the only org to be fully qualified for race day (PiKA is still looking to pick up a few rolls with one driver/buggy combination).
Fringe: Saturday was eventful for Fringe who premiered a new buggy “NBXIX” (New Buggy 2019). But the incidents started early. During their first roll of the day, Bumper experienced some steering trouble at the top of hill 2 which caused it to hit the curb, as if the enormous hill 2 pot hole was not enough for drivers to contend with. NB19 rolled fine twice until it encountered its own steering issue as it approached the chute flag. The driver pulled the brake and came to a controlled stop in the road and was extracted. The reason for the stop is unclear, but there were murmurs of “steering issues”. The giant googly eyes continue to delight and make a great accessory to the traditional painters tape ‘finish’. On Sunday both buggies returned to the course now joined by Boson. Fringe tried out a number of buggy/driver combinations this year but seems to be really dialing in on what works for them.
PiKA: Out Saturday with only one buggy: Banshee. They appear to be trying out some new white, 6-inch wheels, but it was too cold to get a good sense of their impact on speed. PiKA’s lack of incidents this weekend and their 18 completed rolls with their buggy fleet shows a preparedness for the rapidly approaching race day that some organizations are still working up to. PiKA’s drivers (Taylor, Victoria, and Katy) also boast a successful pass test each, at the end of Saturday only Raptor still needed to complete a pass test, which they pulled off Sunday morning.
SDC: As SDC pushes their buggies to get up to speed, we learn they aren’t immune to incidents. During the third roll of the day Malice hit the bales as it entered the chute at a high rate of speed. It seems that a hatch came loose just prior to the turn, preventing the driver from making the turn. She hit the outer bales at an angle, but penetrated through both rows to the curb. The driver was extracted and examined by EMS but walked away from the crash without apparent injury. The elaborate extraction process of SDC and the ensuing EMS evaluation left rolls on hold for a good long while. To the credit of SDC drivers they all came to controlled stops as the flags were thrown. On Sunday SDC returned with a more conservative “roll two buggies at a time” strategy, only Bane and Vice were spotted. This leaves onlookers to wonder about the status of the course record holding buggy; Malice and veteran driver Kyoko.
SigEp: SigEp was only rolling one buggy on Saturday. Hydra, not seen since November 4th, is back this week with driver Beccy Zhang. Her 3 Saturday rolls bring the roll count to 9, one shy of what she needs to qualify as a returning driver in 2019. Their push teams seemed a little over anxious for raceday when a hill 5 pusher nearly took out the entire catch team at the finish line. SigEp was absent on Sunday.
SigNu: In a noble effort to prove how little you actually have to show up at rolls in order to get to race day, SigNu has made their third appearance of the year and racked up a grand total of 13 rolls between driver Seung Yun and Bungarus Krait (2009). They are simply a pass-test away from competing. What they lack in practice they surely make up for in additional restful sleep on weekends. Sunday they returned to form and stayed in.
Spirit: Spirit kept everything tight on Saturday and Sunday, their lack of incidents (only a loose hatch to note) making them one of the only independents to get through unscathed. Zuke and Chloe racked up their 15th qualifying roll for the year and is only a pass test away from raceday. Beichen in Inviscid is in the same boat only needing a complete pass test as her 19 qualifying rolls (36 times around the course) this year is more than enough for a veteran driver. Spirit is already looking fast around the freerolls; they’ll have the rest of the semester to bring that speed up and as usual will contend for a top slot on race day. Spirit returned on Sunday to log another 14 rolls between three buggies. Their lack of interesting anecdotes shows a consistency in performance that gives them a leg up on teams still sorting out mechanical issues.
RoboBuggy: NAND was out today, suffering from the ultra-light buggy problem of no momentum on the downhill it got nearly a full hill 2 push from the follow car. Unfortunately an issue with the brakes refusing to release caused them to scratch on their second roll. If it can’t be autonomous it should at least have that neon under-lighting. Robobuggy helped us make quorum on Sunday and was back out with NAND, still sorting out kinks and giving extra hill 3 pushes but determined as ever to brave the cold and develop the technologies that will one day let us all attend rolls remotely from the warmth and comfort of home.
It’s hard to believe, but CMU students will be enjoying their spring break next week. The teams voted not to have rolls the first weekend of break and Sweepstakes was unable to get permits for the second weekend. So, we’ll be back in two weeks with more buggy goodness. Until then, stay warm and get pumped for Raceday 2019!
Rolls Report Contributors: