100 Years of Buggy History – 1970-1973

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This week, the 100 Years of Buggy History reaches a turning point with the early 1970s. A tragic event in 1971 nearly ended the sport, but the organizations got together to implement significant changes to the safety rules. We also had some new organizations, a bunch of new buggies, and even new roads! Plus, we have our first official predictions, and Carnival makes a move.

1970

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 17 at 9:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 18 at 10:00am

Sweepstakes Committee: Harold Herre (Chair)

Race Results: (1) PiKA A – T-2 (2:28.50); (2) Beta A – 825 (2:29.60); (3) Beta B – 00 (2:33.00)

Design Comp: (1) Beta; (2) DTD; (3) ATO

Weather: Cloudy, 60-70 Degrees on Friday; Sunny, 50-55 Degrees on Saturday

Buggy Book: 1970 Buggy Book Link

On the 50th Anniversary of Buggy, Spring Carnival moves earlier! And on the racing side, Beta and PiKA duke it out while chaos reigns in the Consolation Heat.

  • Carnival Moves to April.  On the 50th Anniversary of Buggy, Spring Carnival made its biggest change since it’s World War II hiatus.  That change saw a shift from an early May date to a mid-April date.  Along with Carnival moving up 2 weeks, Design Competition was also split off from Prelims, with the Design Comp taking place on Thursday afternoon, April 16, at 4:30pm, rather than its traditional spot at 7:30am on Friday morning.
  • DU’s Hybrid Design.  Throughout the 1960s, there was a debate over which buggy style was better – the 4-wheeled “buggy” style or the 2-wheeled bike style.  The 4-wheeled buggies tended to be heavier, but that, plus their aerodynamic shape, helped improve the freeroll times.  Bikes were slower in the freeroll, but had the benefit of being lighter and easier to push.  The problem was that because they only had 2 wheels, they were far more unstable than their 3- or 4-wheeled counterparts.  In 1970, DU decided to try to get the best of both worlds.  They built a new bike-style buggy, but instead of simply 2 wheels, it also had 2 retractable training wheels.  The training wheels would be used only up the hills, to improve stability while being pushed.  In the freeroll, the buggy would roll on 2 wheels only.  They painted their hybrid red, white, and blue, and named it Captain America.  Unfortunately, while this design had promise in theory, the buggy crashed during its race and ended up as a DNF.

1970 – DU’s Captain America (Lane 3) competes against SAE’s Arnold (Lane 1) and SigNu’s Hornet (Lane 2) in Prelims Heat 6 (from the BAA Gallery, courtesy of Rick Holt). Captain America was using 4 wheels on this part of the course, but it ultimately crashed and earned a DNF.
1970 – Another angle, this time in color, of Prelims Heat 6, with SAE’s Arnold in Lane 1, SigNu’s Hornet in Lane 2, and DU’s Captain America in Lane 3 (from the BAA Gallery).
  • DU’s Race to the Bottom.  It turns out that Captain America wasn’t the only new buggy that DU “built” in 1970.  They put together another new buggy for their B team as well, named The Flying Door.  “Door” had some of its own technological differences from other buggies of the era.  Per the 1970 Buggy Book, the driver, Big Ed Barberi, weighed more than the 5 pushers combined.  The brakes consisted of Big Ed’s feet, and per the 1970 Buggy Book, “he will be stopping periodically to pass out flowers to nearby spectators”.  The buggy attempted to break the record for slowest buggy to race, and although it made a valiant effort at that, its final time of 4:10 didn’t quite set that record.  But according to the April 21, 1970, “Ed Barberi and the DU Door did what was undoubtedly the finest public relations job for buggy races seen on this campus in years.”
  • PhiKap: Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.  PhiKap decided to build a new buggy for the first time in 6 years, replacing Shamrock with their new buggy, Streak.  Streak was immediately put to the test as PhiKap’s A team buggy, and between their second place finish in 1969 and impressive practice rolls, it was expected that Streak would easily make the Finals.  Unfortunately, PhiKap appears to have caught whatever plague had been affecting ATO for years. Both Streak, whose time of 2:30.0 would have landed it in 3rd after the Prelims, and Snorpus (which would have been in the Top 10) failed drop tests and were disqualified.
  • Fringe Tries a New Event.  Fringe took to the April 14, 1970 Tartan to solicit pushers for their 3-wheeled buggy, Baby Leroy.  And it seems like it might have worked, as they were able to finish 9th in just their 2nd year, with a time of 2:39.10 with a team full of Fine Arts students (including Hill 1 pusher Richard Miller and Hill 5 pusher Henry Finch).  But the April 21, 1970 Tartan suggests that the result could have been even better, as Baby Leroy “ran a nonchalant slalom course on the freeroll”.  But whatever trouble it had in the freeroll, it made up for by being able to cut the Chute turn tighter than most other buggies.  The driver of Baby Leroy  weighed 127 pounds and stopped bathing in an attempt to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War after graduation.  In Prelims Heat 2, Fringe went up against ATO B, and although ATO B led going into the backhills, Fringe was able to pass and win the heat after ATO’s pushbar came loose from the frame and tilted forward, making it difficult for pushers to push the buggy without kicking it.
1970 – Fringe’s Baby Leroy leads ATO B in Prelims Heat 2 (from the BAA Gallery). ATO led in the freeroll, but a pushbar failure, plus Fringe’s lightweight design, allowed Fringe to win the heat.
1970 – Fringe’s Baby Leroy gets ready at the Starting Line (from the BAA Gallery)
  • Prelim Heats and DNFs.  22 teams ultimately competed in 1970.  The 1970 Buggy Book (linked above) has a list of all of the Prelim Heats (including handwritten times for each organization), and the BAA’s History Tab currently includes the full results from 1970, so there’s no need to rehash that information here.  In addition to the 2 drop test DQs of PhiKap’s buggies as noted above, DU’s Captain America crash, and the Consolation Heat issues noted below, SigNu A was also DQ’d for an unknown reason out of Prelims Heat 6, and Beta Sigma Rho ended up not racing this year, leaving The Dolphin off the course and just 2 teams to compete in Heat 2.
  • Championship Heat Battle.  Beta managed to qualify both their A and B buggies, 825 and 00, respectively, for the Championship Finals.  There, they ran up against PiKA A’s T-2, which had the fastest Prelim time at 2:26.2, 2 seconds faster than Beta A.  But the Championship Heat ended up much closer.  According to the April 21, 1970 Tartan, the battle was neck-and-neck throughout the Freeroll and Back Hills.  Beta led during the freeroll, But ultimately, PiKA’s pushers were able to push T-2 ahead to grab the narrow edge and cross the finish line first, just 1 second ahead of Beta A.
  • Consolation Heat Craziness.  The Consolation Finals Heat added drama that you don’t see every day in Buggy.  SAE A’s bike was the top team to qualify for the Consolation Finals.  Their Prelim time of 2:31.80 was followed closely by ATO A, who put up a 2:32.60 with Golden Goose.  The 3rd and final spot in the Consolation Heat went to Tau Delta Phi’s bike, which had a 2:34.60 time during Prelims.  In the Consolation Heat, Tau Delta Phi entered the freeroll first, with SAE and ATO close behind.  But because of the nature of bikes and derby-style buggies, ATO’s Golden Goose started to gain on TDP in the freeroll.  The drama began when ATO attempted to pass both bikes as they all approached the transition flag.  ATO went to pass Tau Delta Phi, but in doing so the Golden Goose clipped the back wheel of TDP’s bike.  The contact caused TDP to crash their bike, and ATO spun out and ran off the course prior to reaching the monument.  SAE, who was close behind these two buggies, then tried to swerve to avoid the incident up ahead, but it too went down as a result of the swerve.  The end result is that none of the 3 buggies finished the heat.  Officially, the 4th-6th spots reverted back to the Prelim times, though it’s unclear if ATO was ultimately DQ’d and placed 6th for causing the contact, or if they were still awarded 5th based on their time
1970 – The aftermath of the chaos of the Consolation Heat (from the 04-21-1970 Tartan). SAE A’s Arnold and driver are on the left, with Tau Delta Phi A’s D-13 and driver are on the right.
  • King of the Hill.  The 1970 Buggy Book has some handwritten times, and in addition to the Prelim times, it also appears to have some Hill 1 times.  Based on those numbers, the King of the Hill from 1970 came out of Prelims Heat 3, where Tau Delta Phi A’s Hill 1 pusher ran an 18.7 second Hill 1, just edging PiKA A’s 18.9 from the same heat.  Only 2 other teams ran a sub-20 second time – PhiKap A’s 19.5 in Prelims Heat 8, and SAE A’s 19.7 in Prelim Heat 6.
  • 1970 Photos. Below are some additional photos from 1970:
1970 -Prelims Heat 2 with ATO B (driven by Phil Columbus) in Lane 2 and Fringe’s Baby Leroy, with pusher Richard Miller, in Lane 3 (from the BAA Gallery)
1970 – Fringe’s Baby Leroy being puhed by Henry Finch on Hill 5 (from the BAA Gallery)
1970 – Beta A’s 825 gets pushed on the back hills of Prelims Heat 8 (from the 04-21-1970 Tartan)
1970 – Freeroll of the Championship Finals with Beta A’s 825 in front and PiKA’s T-2 (with driver Carl Weber) behind (PiKA would ultimately pass and win) (from the 04-21-1970 Tartan)
1970 – PiKA B’s Hill 5 pusher, Steve O’Connor, collapses after crossing the Finish Line of Prelims Heat 7 (from the 04-21-1970 Tartan)
PiKA A’s T-2 passes Drops and earns the victory (from the 04-21-1970 Tartan)
1970 – Prelims Heat 1 with Tau Delta Phi B’s Denbeigh Super Chauvinist Mark VII in Lane 1, DU’s Flying Door in Lane 2, and Theta Xi’s Xiclone in Lane 3 (from the BAA Gallery).
1970 – Prelims Heat 4 with SAE B’s Purple (non-Arnold) buggy in Lane 1, PhiKap’s Snorpus in Lane 2, and DTD (unknown buggy name) in Lane 3 (from the BAA Gallery).
1970 – Hill 5 of Prelims Heat 6 (from the BAA Gallery). SigNu’s Hornet currently leads, with SAE’s Arnold close behind (and using the bump-and-run technique). SigNu would ultimately DQ, and DU’s Captain America crashed prior to this point of the race.
1970 – SigNu’s Brother Rat in Lane 3 and either ATO or DTD in Lane 2 of an unknown heat (from the BAA Gallery).
1970 – An unidentified buggy gets picked up on Hill 3 (from the BAA Gallery)
1970 – An unidentified buggy gets pushed on Hill 3 (from the BAA Gallery)

1971

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 23 at 9:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 24 at 10:00am

Sweepstakes Committee: Unknown

Race Results: (1) PiKA A – Pithon (2:28.50); (2) Beta A – 825 (2:31.10); (3) Beta B – POS (2:38.80)

Design Comp: (1 – TIE) PhiKap – Streak; DTD – Bitch 2 (431 points each); (3) PhiKap – Snorpus (424 points)

Weather: Sunny, 46-55 Degrees on Friday; Blustering Wind, 42-47 Degrees on Saturday

Buggy Book: 1971 Buggy Book Link

Prediction Score (Dick Figler): 25/40 (see below for explanation)

1971 saw a turning point in Buggy, as a tragic accident during push practice the week before Raceday led to a complete overhaul of the safety rules.

  • Tragedy Strikes Buggy.  For 50 years, Buggy had been relatively lucky when it came to injuries.  Incidents rarely led to serious injuries, and even if they were somewhat serious, we have no record that anyone was impacted for a long period of time.  That all changed, however, on Monday, April 19, just 3 days before Carnival.  DTD was out on the course, getting in push practice on the back hills.  A Junior ECE major (we’re withholding his name for now) was driving the buggy, when suddenly he lost control.  The buggy veered up an inclined curb at the end of Baker Hall and ran directly into a tree.  Security was called and the driver was taken to Shadyside Hospital, but the incident ultimately left him paralyzed.  This tragic event nearly resulted in the end of Buggy, but the Sweepstakes Committee instead rewrote the rulebook with an emphasis on safety, adding the position of Safety Chair and significantly increasing the rules around safety requirements for buggies.
  • First Official Predictions.  The Tartan had started printing “predictions” during the 1960s, but this mostly consisted of a sentence about each organization and whether they had a chance to compete or not.  In 1971, however, the Tartan printed the first ever true predictions, written under the name of “Dick Figler” (it’s unclear if that’s a real name or a pseudonym).  So now that we’re in the era of predictions, I’m introducing my Prediction Score!  The predictor (which will soon become Compubookie) will receive 10 points for correctly predicted the 1st place team, 9 points for 2nd, 8 points for 3rd, etc., all the way down to 1 point for 10th.  In addition, the predictor will earn 5 points for correctly getting a Top 3 buggy but in the wrong place (e.g., the prediction was 3rd and the buggy finished 2nd), and 2 points for a Top 6 buggy in the wrong place (e.g., the prediction was 3rd and the buggy finished 4th).  To demonstrate, in 1971, Dick Figler predicted the top 6 finishers as follows: (1) PiKA A; (2) Beta A; (3) PhiKap A; (4) Beta B; (5) SAE A; (6) ATO A.  In this case, Dick Figler would earn 25 points: 10 points for correctly predicting PiKA A winning, 9 points for correctly predicting Beta A 2nd, and 2 points for putting each of PhiKap A, Beta B, and ATO A in the Top 6 where they finished (Beta B finished 3rd, but since Dick Figler did not have Beta B in the Top 3, he does not earn the 5 points).
  • More Independents Join The Fray.  Fringe’s solid performance over the previous 2 years led to an overall expansion of the buggy field, and in 1971, 2 new independent organizations joined the competition.  One of those was Le Societe Herpolhodique (LSH), a one-and-done organization made up of Physics majors that rolled only in 1971.  The other became a bigger staple within the Buggy community: the Carnegie Involvement Association (CIA).  In total, 28 teams would compete in 1971, a then-record number of teams.
  • New Buggies.  According to the April 22, 1971 Tartan, 7 new buggies hit the course in 1971. The two that rolled the best in practices belonged to ATO and Beta.  ATO’s buggy, named Stinger, looked similar to SigNu’s designs for Brother Rat and Hornet.  Beta’s, meanwhile, named POS, resembled the PiKA design family.  Another of the new buggies was so slow that the driver reportedly had to use his hands to make the buggy move in the freeroll.  That buggy may have been the one belonging to LSH.  LSH’s buggy was formally known as Herpole Hode, but most people know if by its colloquial name – Bathtub Buggy.
1971 – LSH’s Herpole Hode, also known as Bathtub Buggy, preparing to race (courtesy of Tom Wood). From Left to Right: Unknown, Robert Turco, Catherine Hughes, Paul Spudich (Driver), Ronald Benton, Dale Huffman (obscured) and Kerry Greenwald
  • List of 1971 Buggies.  Thanks to the April 29, 1971 Tartan printing the scores of Design Competition, we know the names of most of the buggies that raced in 1971 (19 of the 28 buggies were entered into Design Competition).  The competing buggies that we know of were:
    • PhiKap – Streak (A) and Snorpus (B)
    • DTD – Green Grunge (A) and Bitch 2 (B)
    • SigNu – Hornet (A) and Brother Rat (B)
    • ATO – Stinger (A) and Golden Goose (B)
    • Beta – 825 (A) and POS (B)
    • Theta Xi – Xiclone and Unknown
    • Dorms – [No Name] and Bike I
    • Fringe – Marmaduke (A) and Baby Leroy (B)
    • PiKA – Pi-thon (A) and T-2 (B)
    • Tau Delta Phi – D-13 (A) and Denbeigh Super Chauvinist Mark VII (B)
    • SAE – “Green” and Unknown (we’re unclear whether “Arnold” is the name of the buggy labeled “Green” or if it is the other buggy)
    • DU – Pipe Dream II
    • LSH – Herpole Hode (a.k.a Bathtub Buggy)
    • CIA – [No Name]
    • KapSig – Flying Ladder
    • Beta Sigma Rho – Duck
  • SigNu’s Bad Luck Continues.  SigNu seemed to have a tendency to put up really fast times, only to get DQ’d for some reason.  That luck continued in 1971. SigNu A’s buggy, Hornet, put up the 2nd best time of the Prelims with a 2:28.4, but it was DQ’d for failing Drops.  Many people were unsurprised though, as the design of Hornet was similar to ATO’s buggies, which had historically had trouble with their brakes (and the April 19, 1971 Tartan says that ATO’s 4th place finish in 1971 was even more impressive because they had to pass Drops twice).
  • Results.  The results from 1971 are mostly available in the BAA History database, with the exception of CIA, LSH, and Beta Sigma Rho.  CIA finished 9th with a 2:40.0 time (just 1.5 seconds away from the Consolation Finals). Beta Sigma Rho’s time was 3:15.0, placing them 17th overall and LSH finished last with a 3:59.0.  As for the finals, it was never really all that much in doubt, as PiKA A’s Hill 1 pusher, Mr. Fota, gave them the lead going into the freeroll and the combination of an expert driver with Pithon’s freeroll spee allowed Pithon to maintain that edge throughout the race.
  • DNFs and DQs.  Meanwhile, 2 buggies, one each from SAE and ATO, had incidents and earned a DNF.  ATO’s Golden Goose entered the Chute turn barely ahead of SigNu, but took an outside line and ended up too far outside, crashing into the outer haybales and ending up on the sidewalk.  The driver was carried to an ambulance on a stretcher, though as far as we know, the driver was not seriously injured.  SAE, meanwhile, had an issue on the backhills, as their bike hit one of the many potholes on Frew Street (that were supposed to be paved as early as 1970 but hadn’t been by Raceday 1971) and toppled over.  4 other buggies were DQ’d: SigNu A (as noted above), SAE, DU, and KapSig, though we don’t have the reason for the other DQs.
  • 1971 Photos. Below are some photos from 1971:
1971 – LSH’s Herpole Hode, aka Bathtub Buggy, gets ready to race (from the 04-29-1971 Tartan). Inset: SAE’s Bike being pushed.
1971 – LSH’s Herpole Hode (aka Bathtub Buggy) crosses the Finish Line in 4:10 in Prelims Heat 3 (courtesy of Tom Wood). Dale R. Huffman (MCS ’72) pushing and Paul A. Spudich (MCS ’72) driving
1971 – The Freeroll of Prelims Heat 8 (from the 04-29-1971 Tartan). From front to back: ATO A – Stringer (leading), PiKA B – T-2 (2nd, back right), DTD A – Green Grunge (3rd, back left)
1971 – An unidentified pusher does a faceplant (from the 04-29-1971 Tartan).
1971 – An unknown buggy at the Hill 1-2 Transition (from the 04-29-1971 Tartan)
1971 – Prelims Heat 2, with ATO’s Golden Goose (foreground) pushed by John Wehner in Lane 1 and Men’s Dorms’ Bike I in Lane 2 (from the BAA Gallery, courtesy of Rick Holt). Not pictured: SigNu
Fringe’s Baby Leroy under construction (from the BAA Gallery, courtesy of Rick Holt)
1971 – DTD’s pushers try to keep warm before Raceday (from the 04-29-1971 Tartan).
1971 – Hill 1 of Prelims Heat 4 (from the 04-29-1971 Tartan). From Left to Right: DTD with unidentified buggy (Lane 1), TDP with unidentified buggy (Lane 2), PiKA A’s Pi-thon (Lane 3).
1971 – A buggy that appears to be PiKA A’s Pi-thon gets pushed on the back hills (from the 04-29-1971 Tartan)

  • 1971 Videos.  We’ve got multiple videos from 1971.  The first includes 2 different races; ATO’s Golden Goose crashing in Prelims Heat 2, and PiKA’s Pithon defeating DTD and Tau Delta Phi in Prelims Heat 4.  The second is a video of Herpole Hode, a.k.a Bathtub Buggy, and includes the buggy being brought out to the course, the pushers preparing, and the buggy battling against Theta Xi B (with SAE well in front) in Prelims Heat 3, with footage from spectators as well as a camera mounted on the front of the bathtub.  The third video shows the 1971 Championship Finals between PiKA A’s Pithon, Beta A’s 825, and Beta B’s POS (with an intro from a different heat of 3 unknown buggies).  Warning: The videos are pretty shaky, so don’t watch them on a large screen.
1971 – ATO’s Golden Goose Crashes in the Chute during Prelims Heat 2, and PiKA’s Pi-Thon defeats DTD and TDP in Prelims Heat 4.
1971 – A collection of video from LSH’s Herpole Hode (aka Bathtub Buggy), from being carried out of storage to video of the race from a camera mounted on the buggy).
1971 – The Championship Finals, with PiKA A’s Pi-Thon defeating Beta A’s 825 and Beta B’s POS. Note that the first few seconds are video from an unknown heat.

1972

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 21 at 9:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 22 at 10:00am

Sweepstakes Committee: Jeff Larochelle (Chair); Don Dietrich (Safety)

Race Results: (1) PhiKap A – Streak (2:24); (2) PiKA A- Pi-Thon (2:24.6); (3) SigNu A – Hornet (2:28.8)

Design Comp: (1) Beta – 825; (2) PhiKap – Streak; (3) PhiKap – Snorpus

Weather: Sunny, 47-57 Degrees on Friday; Rain, 46-50 Degrees on Saturday

Buggy Book: 1972 Buggy Book Link

Prediction Score (Dick Figler): 20/40

1972 was the first year with the new safety measures in place, and by and large, they seemed to work. In addition, we saw the terrible back hill conditions finally get fixed, and PhiKap Streaks to victory.

  • Safety is the Name of the Game.  Following the tragic incident of 1971, the Sweepstakes Committee put a new focus on safety.  Among the changes were: (1) the addition of a Safety Chair to the Sweepstakes Committee; (2) brake tests before buggies may roll during practice; (3) inspection of safety design procedures; (4) requirement that design changes be reported to the Safety Chair; (5) headgear is required for all drivers; (6) lights must be used during push practice; (7) security guards posted on the hills during practice to direct traffic, and (8) new braking systems required for certain buggies.  New construction requirements included safety harnesses, crash protection (crash bars in the front of the buggy), vision, roll protection, and headgear for the drivers.  Push practices were limited to certain Hills.  Drivers were required to attend a training course.  And a new drop test was introduced – the new test required a buggy to be able to stop within 40 feet from a speed of 15mph, with the test to be administered before every freeroll, practice, or race.
  • Safety, Part 2.  Not everyone agreed with the safety overhaul, however.  In an editorial in the March 14, 1972 Tartan, editor Jude Heller argued that “the safety design of buggies is being pushed to absurd limits.”  The editorial also states that it was suggested to buggy teams that they take out special insurance policies for the races to protect against any accidents that occur.
  • Paving Becomes a Necessity.  The March 14, 1972 editorial by Jude Heller argued that even with all of the new safety measures being implemented, the more dangerous situation as being ignored (this view wasn’t necessarily shared by the buggy community).  But it wasn’t ignored by the students; it was ignored by the CMU administration.  That issue was the deteriorating road conditions on Frew Street, which the author claimed had gotten so bad that “the shocks in my car have had it.” But the situation was a little more complicated.  In the Spring of 1970, CMU and the City of Pittsburgh had reached an agreement to pave the Buggy course.  It would have been completed with good weather, but Sweepstakes was told that a 3-4 day delay in the paving could jeopardize Raceday, so Sweepstakes voted not to have the paving done in 1970.  That caused the roads to be moved to the bottom of the City’s list.  In the Fall of 1970, CMU again got an agreement from the City of Pittsburgh to pave in the Spring.  However, in the winter of 1970, Mayor Flaherty ended the City’s contract with the then-current asphalt company (the City had decided to build its own).  The new company wasn’t completed until the Summer of 1971.  The good news is that in March of 1972, CMU had once again requested that the City pave the streets, and  it finally happened!  The week before Raceday, Frew Street was paved, increasing the likelihood of a course record in 1972.
  • CMU Dominates Pittsburgh.  We’ve written before about the different Buggy-related events in Pittsburgh.  But in 1972, CMU proved its dominance in gravity vehicle-related sports.  The University of Pittsburgh held a Soap Box Derby race on March 16, 1972, and 16 teams entered the event.  Each team was placed in a single elimination bracket, going head-to-head against another team in a 2-out-of-3 heat.  The course was simple; it was a straight hill on Parkman Avenue in which the pushers had a 10 foot start, and then pushed the buggy down the hill, with the first buggy to cross the finish line and then stop within a specified distance being declared the winner.  CIA built a new buggy for Raceday in 1972, and decided to test out their design in Pitt’s competition.  Sure enough, CIA won the competition, taking home the $100 prize.  CMU’s chapter of DU finished second, giving CMU a clean sweep over Pitt’s teams.
  • New Buggies.  Several new buggies found their way to the course in 1972.  After making their debut in 1971, CIA built a new vehicle for 1972, with 16 inch bicycle wheels, four wheel brakes, a shock absorbing bumper, and rear view mirrors.  DU reconstructed their previous buggy, Pipedream II, and named it exactly what you would expect; Pipedream III.  The new unibody design included better aerodynamics, improved axle alignment, a redesigned braking system and more fully developed suspension system.  The Men’s Dorms spent 2.5 years designing a new buggy, and finally rolled it out in 1972.  The buggy had a unique suspension system, four wheel brakes, and structural aluminum.  KapSig decided to put an emphasis on safety with their new buggy, with a welded steel cage around the driver.  SAE decided that it was tired of having its buggies topple over, and they designed their first 4-wheeled bike, 2024.
  • Raceday Predictions.  Once again, Dick Figler took a shot at predicting the Buggy results for 1972.  He gave 2 different sets of predictions, one of who he thinks should win (based on practice times), and one of who he thinks will win (based on “inside information”).  He should have stuck with the “should win” list, which was much closer (it flipped 3rd and 4th, but otherwise nailed the Top 5).  Instead, he went with: (1) Beta A; (2) PiKA A; (3) PhiKap A; (4) Beta B; (5) SigNu A; (6) SAE A.  He also predicted that at least 2 of PiKA, SigNu, Beta, PhiKap, SAE, and ATO would either spin out, fail drops, or have something else go wrong., but that SigNu would pass Drops.
  • Prelim Heat 2 Controversy.  Heat 2 of the 1972 Prelims was a competitive heat. Coming out of Lane 1 was DTD A and their fast rolling (but slow-to-be-pushed) buggy, Green Grunge.  They were pitted against SigNu B’s Brother Rat, in Lane 2, and PiKA (it’s unclear which team) out of Lane 3.  The real battle came with the inside 2 lanes, as DTD and SigNu stayed neck-and-neck up the front hills.  As they reached the top of Hill 2 and entered the freeroll, the two buggies collided.  The collision caused SigNu to lose a wheel and spin out, while DTD’s buggy suffered a cracked body and suspension.  The judges ultimately granted DTD a reroll and DQ’d SigNu for causing the collision.  SigNu protested, arguing that DTD crashed into the curb first, and then ricocheted into SigNu, thereby causing the incident.  The judges, however, did not see it that way.  Thankfully, there were no injuries in the crash.  PiKA B’s T-2 was also reportedly a DNF, though we don’t have the reason.
  • Other Incidents. There aren’t a ton of written records about the other incidents from Raceday 1972.  CIA’s new buggy, which used pneumatic tires, was involved in an accident in their heat with TDP and BSR, thereby negating a solid pushing effort.
  • Rain, Rain, Go Away.  PiKA probably felt pretty good about their chances in 1972, as they finished the Prelims only 0.6 seconds behind PhiKap and had a history of getting faster during Finals.  However, the weather wasn’t quite on the same page.  Rain fell on Saturday, causing Sweepstakes to cancel the Finals.  Because of that cancellation, the Prelim times were made Final and PhiKap earned its first victory since 1929.
  • Women Get Involved.  1972 is the first record we have of an Exhibition Heat, although it didn’t appear as an official heat prior to the race. But whether it was official or not, there was one exhibition heat, and it included a women’s team! The heat pitted KapSig’s Little Sisters against the alumni of PiKA and PhiKap.  Courtesy of Tom Wood, PhiKap’s alumni won the heat in a time of 2:46.8, while PiKA settled for 2nd with a 3:01.8. KapSig’s Little Sisters took a little longer, finishing the course in 4:25.3. Take a look at this photo of one of KapSig’s Little Sisters pushing the new KapSig buggy on the back hills.
1972 – KapSig’s Little Sisters took part in an Exhibition Heat prior to the start of the Prelims (from the 04-25-1972 Tartan).
  • 1972 Photos. Below are some photos from 1972:
1972 – SAE’s Arnold gets pushed in practice (from the BAA Gallery, courtesy of Douglas Harrigan)
1972 – An unknown buggy gets pushed up Hill 1 during practice (from the 04-11-1972 Tartan)
1972 – An unidentified buggy gets pushed into the freeroll during practice (from the 04-11-1972 Tartan)
1972 – PhiKap’s Streak reaches a transition zone during practice (from the 04-11-1972 Tartan)
1972 – A DTD buggy gets pushed during practice (from the 04-11-1972 Tartan)
1972 – SAE’s 4-wheeler, Intrepid, gets pushed in practice (from the BAA Gallery, courtesy of Douglas Harrigan)
1972 – Hill 1-2 Transition of Prelims Heat 2 (from the 04-25-1972 Tartan). From Left to Right: DTD with unidentified buggy (Lane 1), SigNu with Brother Rat (Lane 2), PiKA’s Pi-thon (Lane 3).
1972 – PhiKap’s Streak in the Freeroll during practice (from the 03-21-1972 Tartan)
1972 – PhiKap’s Streak claims victory at the Finish Line (from the 04-25-1972 Tartan)

1973

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 13 at 9:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 14 at 9:00am*

Sweepstakes Committee: Don Dietrich (Chair); Tom Wood (Safety)

Race Results: (1) PhiKap A – Streak (2:23.0); (2) PiKA A – Pi-thon (2:23.6); (3) Beta A – 825 (2:25.8)

Design Comp: (1) PhiKap – Streak; (2) PhiKap – Snorpus; (3) Fringe – Flying Buttress

Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 34-40 Degrees on Friday; Sunny, 40-44 Degrees on Saturday

Buggy Book: 1973 Buggy Book Link

Prediction Score: N/A (No official predictions)

The push for improved safety continued in 1972 with a new heat selection process and pass tests, and Exhibitions were officially added to the Lineup.

  • New Heat Selection Process and Pass Tests.  The greater push for safety in Buggy had mostly done its job in 1972, as everyone seemed to be in agreement that the buggies themselves were safer than years past.  However, one thing that couldn’t be controlled as part of the build process was the uncertainty of the driver.  In particular, the issue of passing became an issue, as it adds a level of danger to the course that is not present when only 1 buggy is rolling.  This is particularly true when it comes to the limited vision of the drivers inside their buggies.  In order to help alleviate this issue, the 1973 Sweepstakes Committee implemented a new Heat Selection process.  The new process prevented the top contenders from being paired in the same heat, thereby minimizing the amount of passing that would occur in the race.  In addition, just in case a driver was forced to pass during a heat, Sweepstakes added an additional rule that in order to qualify for Raceday, a driver must successfully pass another buggy during morning practices, a rule that is still in place today and is known as a “Pass Test”.
  • CIA’s Natural Rival Joins Buggy.  A total of 22 teams from 13 organizations competed in Buggy in 1973.  Most had raced in years past, but the CMU commuters decided to attempt their return to Buggy after a 20+ year absence.  However, they no longer competed under the name Citcom Clan (possibly because the school was no longer called CIT).  Instead, they chose a new name: CCCP.  The co-ed team looked to really upend Buggy with their “advanced technology and bizarre mechanical design”.  It’s not surprising, then, that CIA put their B team buggy in Prelims Heat 5, one heat after CCCP, where they could follow the CCCP.  It’s also not surprising, then, that neither CCCP nor CIA B were actually able to make it to Raceday, as neither team had enough practice rolls to satisfy the minimum number necessary for competing on Raceday, as they were probably too focused on each other.
  • What To Look For In A Pusher.  Every once in a while, we like to check in on the state of technology and technique within the Buggy world.  The March 13, 1973 Tartan gives us a good chance to look at what teams looked for in their pushers back in 1973. Hill 1 was considered the most difficult, exhausting hill, which required a strong and fast pusher, because at the end of the hill, the pusher is “more dead than alive”.  Hill 2 doesn’t need to be as strong as Hill 1, but he needs to be faster, having the ability to accelerate quickly and give a strong shove.  Hill 3 is a sprinter; he’ll need to make sure to practice so that he knows where to pick up the buggy, because if he’s too far down he’ll need to play “catch the speeding buggy”, but if he’s too far up he’ll have to run down to get it.  Hill 4 requires stamina and a long stride.  Lastly, Hill 5 requires as much speed as possible, because it’s 180 yards of a dead sprint.
  • Shifting Away from Bikes.  SAE decided to build a new buggy in 1973, and for the first time in over a decade, they decided to shift away from the bike design.  They used what they learned from 1972’s build, 2024, to produce a 4-wheeled buggy in the more traditional style.  The new buggy, named Intrepid, was entered as the B team buggy in 1972.
  • New Buggies of 1973.  In addition to SAE’s Intrepid, several other buggies made their racing debut in 1973.  ATO built a new buggy very similar to Golden Goose that rolled for its A team, named Gander.  The Men’s Dorms put a new buggy together, with a frame based on their 1964 buggy and a unique front axle that was first used, in failure, in 1972, in addition to refurbishing the buggy that crashed in 1972 (though it seems that the new buggy did not get completed in time to qualify for Raceday).  DTD began building a new buggy, codenamed “Ralph’s Wall”, but it wasn’t yet ready for primetime and waited another year before debuting on the course.  Fringe finally retired Baby Leroy and instead rolled out their new aluminum 4-wheeler, Flying Buttress.  Flying Buttress featured a centrally located pushbar and a calipers braking system.  PhiKap refurbished their veteran buggy Snorpus to update it to the current technology try and add to its longevity.  And KapSig didn’t introduce a new buggy, opting to bring back Pipe Dream III, but they did decide to rename their buggy to “I Forget” (a nod to what they knew about buggy construction at the time).
  • First Official Exhibition.  It seems likely that Exhibitions started some time before 1973, and we’ve certainly had evidence of a random race here or there that weren’t official (such as 1972’s Little Sisters run).  But 1973 marks the first time we have a record of an official Exhibition Heat.  Labeled as Heat 0 in the Tartan and the 1973 Buggy Book, the Exhibition Heat was a battle between PhiKap’s alums, in Lane 1, PiKA’s alums, in Lane 2, and KapSig’s Little Sisters, in Lane 3.  And for the 2nd year in a row, the PhiKap alums came out on top, winning the heat in a time of 2:37.8. PiKA was fairly close behind, finishing in 2:43.3, while the KapSig Little Sisters finished in 5:07.5.
  • Prelim Incidents.  As best we can tell, the Prelims weren’t all that eventful, which I’m sure made the Sweepstakes Committee very happy.  One of the most talked about parts of the Prelims was SAE B’s roll in Prelim Heat 1; but it was talked about because it proved how beneficial SAE’s bikes were, as Intrepid put up a relatively unimpressive 3:00.1.  Sadly, SAE proved why they made the switch 2 heats later, as their A team bike, Arnold, lost its front wheel in the freeroll and the driver toppled over In Prelims Heat 3, knocking SAE out of the contest.  The other drama came from a rules battle in Prelims Heat 6.  The Fringe A buggy, Flying Buttress, lost its hatch, and led to a heated debate over whether the buggy should be DQ’d for a loss of mass.  The final decision from the judges was that yes, Fringe should be DQ’d.
  • Scheduling Mix-Up for Finals.  For years prior to 1973, the Prelims were scheduled to start at 9am, and the Finals were scheduled for 10am.  But in 1973, the Finals were, for some reason, moved up to 9am.  However, spectators didn’t necessarily get the memo.  A number of people showed up to the course at 10am, only to discover that the race they came to see was already over.
  • Finals Results.  PhiKap A, PiKA A and Beta A were the 3 teams to make it to the Championship Heat, with times of 2:25.4, 2:26.2, and 2:26.9, respectively.  PhiKap proved that their A team is exactly 0.6 seconds faster than PiKA’s A team, as for the second year in a row, 0.6 seconds was the margin between the two teams.  PhiKap’s Streak entered the Chute just slightly ahead of PiKA’s Pi-thon, but Pi-thon had the better rollout and the two buggies were neck-and-neck throughout the back hills. Ultimately, PhiKap’s Streak won for the 2nd year in a row, this time with a time of 2:23.0, while PiKA’s Pi-thon finished second with a 2:23.6.  Beta A’s 825 was 3rd in 2:25.8.  Meanwhile, SigNu A’s Hornet, Beta B’s POS, and ATO A’s Gander earned spots in the Consolation Heat, finishing in that order with times of 2:28.0, 2:29.9, and 2:30.4, respectively.
  • 1973 Video. If the text version of what happened in the 1973 Championship Heat wasn’t enough for you, good news! We’ve got the video from the lead truck! Warning: The video is shaky, so don’t watch it on a large screen.
1973 – Championship Heat, with Beta A’s 825 in Lane 1, PiKA A’s Pi-thon in Lane 2, and PhiKap’s Streak in Lane 3. PhiKap would ultimately win with a time of 2:23.0, just 0.6 seconds ahead of PiKA.
  • 1973 Photos. We’ve also got photos from 1973:
1973 – Putting the Buggies down at the Starting Line in the Championship Heat (from the 1974 Buggy Book)
1973 – Hill 1 of the Championship Heat (from the 1974 Buggy Book). From left to right: Beta A’s 825 (Lane 1); PiKA A’s Pi-thon (Lane 2); PhiKap’s Streak (Lane 3)
1973 – Hill 2 of the Championship Heat (from the 1974 Buggy Book). From left to right: Beta A’s 825 (Lane 1); PiKA A’s Pi-thon (Lane 2); PhiKap’s Streak (Lane 3)
1973 – Championship Heat Buggies entering the freeroll (from the 1974 Buggy Book). From left to right: Beta A’s 825 (Lane 1); PiKA A’s Pi-thon (Lane 2); PhiKap’s Streak (Lane 3)
1973 – Hill 3 of the Championship Heat (from the 1974 Buggy Book). From left to right: Beta A’s 825 (Left); PhiKap’s Streak (Middle); PiKA A’s Pi-thon (Right);
1973 – Hill 4 of the Championship Heat (from the 1974 Buggy Book). From back to front: Beta A’s 825 (trailing); PiKA A’s Pi-thon (front left); PhiKap A’s Streak (front right)
1973 – Hill 5 of the Championship Heat (from the 1974 Buggy Book). From back to front: Beta A’s 825 (trailing); PiKA A’s Pi-thon (front right); PhiKap A’s Streak (front left)
1973 – PhiKap A’s Streak crosses the Finish Line just ahead of PiKA A’s Pi-thon in the Championship Heat (from the 1974 Buggy Book).
1973 – Championship Finals Hill 1 (from the 04-17-1973 Tartan). From Left to Right: Beta A’s 825 (Lane 1); PiKA A’s Pi-thon (Lane 2); PhiKap A’s Streak (Lane 3)
1973 – 3 Unknown Buggies line up at the Starting Line (from the 04-17-1973 Tartan)
1973 – Starting Line of Prelims Heat 6 (from the BAA Gallery, courtesy of the CMU Archives). From Left to Right: Dorms (Lane 1); Fringe – Flying Buttress (Lane 2); Beta – POS (Lane 3)
1973 – The Hill 1-2 Transition of an unknown heat (from the 04-17-1973 Tartan)
1973 – PhiKap A’s Streak makes the Chute turn (from the 04-17-1973 Tartan)
1973 – PhiKap A’s Streak, with Dan Streyle pushing, crosses the Finish Line in victory (from the 04-17-1973 Tartan)
1973 – PiKA A’s Pi-thon crosses the Finish Line in 2nd (from the 04-17-1973 Tartan)