Table of Contents: Intro & 1920; 1921-1923; 1924-1927; 1928-1932; 1933-1935; 1936-1939; 1940-1945; 1946-1949; 1950-1953; 1954-1956; 1957-1959; 1960-1963; 1964-1966; 1967-1969; 1970-1973; 1974-1976; 1977-1979; 1980-1983; 1984-1986; 1987-1989; 1990-1993; 1994-1996; 1997-1999; 2000-2003; 2004-2006; 2007-2009; 2010; 2011; 2012; 2013; 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017; 2018; 2019; Recap & 2020

Before we dig into this week, we want to quickly remind you that the 100th Year of Buggy is coming up as part of Spring Carnival on April 16-18, 2020. We want to make the Buggy Centennial the biggest celebration in Buggy history! But to do that, we’ll need your help. Together with the CMU Alumni Relations Office, we’ve launched a Crowdfunding initiative to help support Buggy100 and make our dreams a reality. So if you can, please help us make Buggy100 the spectacle it deserves to be, and consider giving towards this celebration. Donations not only give you membership to the BAA with all of the benefits included, but you can even get some other special perks available just for the Crowdfunding effort (including locking in your Lead Truck rides now!). Click here to view the Buggy100 Crowdfunding page.

This week, the 100 Years of Buggy History Series takes down its disco ball as we head to the early 1980s. This era brought with it a significant change in Buggy design, as a course record in 1982 led to the boom of the 3-wheeler that has carried through to today. It also brought the buggy “boom”, as the number of teams significantly expanded on both the Men’s and Women’s side. We also saw some gamesmanship from certain organizations, some unique new buggy ideas, and even a delayed Raceday.


Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 18 at 9:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 19 at 9:00am

Sweepstakes Committee: Janet Danek (Chair), Howard Siegel (Safety), Tim Bracco (Design), Allison Goodman (Buggy Book)

Men’s Results: (1) PiKA A – White Lightning (2:16.4); (2) Beta A – Echo (2:18.0); (3) CIA A – Black Magic (2:18.7); (4) PiKA B – Pi-thon (2.22.5); (5) SigNu A – ESP (2:24.2); (6) SAE A – Intrepid II (2:27.4)

Women’s Results: (1) CIA A – Synergy (3:06.3); (2) SDC A (3:14.0); (3) SigNu A (3:30.5)

Design Comp: (1) Beta – Echo; (2) SigNu – ESP; (3) DTD – Cyclone

Weather: Sunny, 50-59 Degrees on Friday; Sunny, 53-65 Degrees on Saturday

Buggy Book: 1980 Buggy Book Link

Prediction Score: 27/45 (Compubookie); 44/49 (Buggy Chairs)

1980 saw a new course record and the expansion of Buggy, which wasn’t just the result of the continuation of Women’s racing.

  • Buggy Expands Again.  The introduction of C teams in 1975 was pretty well received.  So Sweepstakes figured, why not do it again?  In 1980, Sweepstakes officially permitted organizations to enter a fourth Men’s team, adding D teams to the mix (where we currently stand today).  Of course, not everyone was clamoring for a D team, and come Raceday, only 2 D teams were entered.  They belonged to PiKA and SDC, and to get them out of the way quickly, they were paired off to race against each other in Prelims Heat 1.
  • New Buggies of 1980.  A few new buggies hit the course in 1980.  The best of those belonged to PiKA, who brought out their soon-to-be-champion White Lightning.  PhiKap rolled out a new buggy, which we believe was named Salamander (though it’s possible Salamander was actually new in 1979).  The shell on CIA’s Streetcar Named Desire was damaged in 1978, so CIA replaced the shell and gave the buggy a new name, Synergy.  PiLam made some improvements over their 1979 buggy, Blue Dolphin, and named the new 3-wheeler Baby Dolphin.  Theta Xi produced a new buggy named Relayer, which had spoked wheels and “dual driver capacity”. They also took their old buggy, Xiclone, and renamed it to “Miscarriage”.  And we’re not sure if it was built in 1980 or 1981, but ATO also produced a new buggy, Quarter Horse.
  • Predictions.  Compubookie was back after a 1 year absence, and with the year off, he decided to go a little deeper in his predictions, naming not just the Top 6, but a “best of the rest” (which I did not include in the Prediction Score).  His top 6 were: (1) Beta A; (2) PiKA A; (3) CIA A; (4) PiKA B; (5) ATO A; (6) SigNu A.  In addition to Compubookie, however, the Tartan also polled all 15 Buggy Chairmen (though Fringe’s chair pointed out that he was not consulted for the poll, so it’s unclear who within Fringe the Tartan spoke with).  The Buggy Chair poll was shockingly accurate, nailing the Top 5 and 6 of the top 7, only missing SAE A by swapping in Beta B (who finished 10th).  The full poll results from the Buggy Chairs were: (1) PiKA A (10 first place votes); (2) Beta A (4 first place votes); (3) CIA A (1 first place vote); (4) PiKA B; (5) SigNu A; (6) Beta B; (7) PhiKap A. The Tartan also got comments from each organization.  Of note, PiKA felt confident in their chances, as their 2 push teams were basically the same as 1979, where they finished 2nd and 3rd.  This seemed to be the difference between PiKA and Beta, who lost their Hill 2 and 3 pushers from the 1979 winning team.  And SDC’s chair gave one of the earliest arguments in the “Fraternities vs. Independents” fight, as the Tartan notes that SDC would likely not finish in the Top 6 this year because one of the drawbacks of an independent organization is that “fraternities have more authority over their people and therefore get better participation at practice and free roll than the independent organizations.” 
  • Course Record Shattered.  Course records aren’t set every year. When they are, it’s usually because of a combination of good weather, veteran pushers, and a particularly fast buggy.  In 1980, PiKA had all of those things.  The buggy was the new build of theirs, the aptly named White Lightning.  Coming out of Lane 2 in Prelims Heat 11, PiKA absolutely obliterated their competition (DU A in Lane 1 and SAE B in Lane 3).  PiKA easily entered the freeroll first, rolled at a high speed, and made a clean turn into the Chute.  It was done so well that Hill 3 pusher Rich Kozar didn’t pick up the buggy until it was already 1/3 of the way up Hill 3.  The back hills pushers completed the task, and PiKA A clocked in at a course record 2:15.4.  It was a bit of a letdown, then, when during the Finals, they couldn’t quite keep up their Prelim pace, and had to settle for merely a 1st place trophy and a then-second best time of all-time with a 2:16.4.
  • ESP Sees its Shadow.  Prelims Heat 10 was an exciting heat.  It pitted PhiKap A’s Shadow in Lane 1, ATO B in Lane 2, and SigNu A’s ESP in Lane 3.  With 2 top contending A teams, spectators knew this race would be close.  But it turns out it was really close.  PhiKap and SigNu each went up the front hills together and began the freeroll neck-and-neck.  At the top of the freeroll, the two buggies had what the Tartan classified as a “confrontation”, with SigNu ultimately taking the lead and winning the heat.  PhiKap filed a protest, claiming that they were cut off by SigNu.  After review, Sweepstakes determined that no contact was made between the buggies, and therefore SigNu was permitted to keep their time.  However, the judges ruled that PhiKap had been negatively impacted, and therefore granted PhiKap’s request for a reroll, which was held on Saturday.  Unfortunately for PhiKap, their reroll time of 2:30.6 was only good enough for 7th, just missing out on a trophy.
  • Other Prelim Notables.  Raceday 1980 was a relatively clean affair.  Outside of Prelim Heat 10, most of the excitement came from the times and who would move on to the Finals.  There were a couple of other minor incidents from the Prelims, however.  Prelims Heat 1 may have contained the first ever D teams, but only 1 of the two officially recorded a time, as PiKA D was DQ’d for failing drops.  Theta Xi had a B team scheduled for Prelims Heat 2, but they couldn’t get the team together in time and scratched from the heat.  In Prelims Heat 3, PiKA C missed the pushbar at the finish line and was DQ’d.  And then in Prelims Heat 11, DU A started in Lane 1 but ended somewhere prior to the finish line, as they earned a DNF.
  • Alumni Races.  There were a total of 4 alumni heats on Saturday morning.  The winners of the alumni “division” were the Beta alums, who clocked in at 2:39.1.  PiKA’s alums finished second, in a 2:42.8, and DTD managed third in 2:40.0.
  • Women’s Races.  SDC had enough women that wanted to push that they were able to form the first ever Women’s B team.  In addition, PiLam and SWE dropped out of the Women’s races in 1980, but SigNu and DU each jumped in.  So in total, 5 women’s teams competed in 2 heats on Saturday morning.  In Heat 1, SDC B rolled in Lane 1, CIA A with Synergy was in Lane 2, and SigNu A was in Lane 3.  The race was an easy win for CIA A, as they clocked in at 3:06.3, while SigNu A put up a 3:30.5 and SDC B did a 3:40.0.  So the only question was whether SDC A or DU A, in Heat 2, could beat CIA’s time.  The answer was no, as SDC A stopped the clock at 3:14.0, settling for second.  DU put up a 3:39.9, just squeaking past SDC B and avoiding last place.  Therefore, CIA won the 1980 Women’s trophy.  But a Letter to the Editor in the April 29, 1980 Tartan criticized Sweepstakes for the trophy itself.  Apparently, the 1st place trophy, which was the only women’s trophy, was much smaller than all of the others (including the 3rd place booth trophy), and no medals were given to the winner of the women’s division like they were for the men’s.  This would eventually be rectified.
  • 1980 Photos. Below are some photos from 1980:
1980 – Starting Line of Prelims Heat 11, with DU A in Lane 1 (left), PiKA A’s White Lightning in Lane 2 (middle), and SAE B’s Hustler in Lane 3 (right) (courtesy of Tom Wood)
1980 – Beta C’s POS and DTD B’s Delta Queen at the Hill 3-4 transition in Prelims Heat 6 (from the 1981 Thistle)
1980 – Prelims Heat 9, with CIA A’s Black Magic being pushed up Hill 4 by Joe Goldcamp and Joanne Kovalcic driving, while KapSig B’s $34.95 trails (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Aiton Goldman)
1980 – An unknown (possibly PhiKap) buggy being pushed (from the 1981 Alumnus)
1980 – An unknown buggy during practice (from the 04-15-1980 Tartan)
1980 – SAE’s Hustler during practice (from the 04-15-1980 Tartan)
1980 – Fringe’s Flying Buttress in the Freeroll (from the 1980 Thistle)
1980 – PiKA A’s White Lightning (Left) and SigNu A’s ESP (Right) on Hill 1 in Finals Heat 3 (from the 04-22-1980 Tartan)
1980 – PiKA A’s White Lightning at the Hill 1-2 Transition (from the 04-22-1980 Tartan)
1980 – PiKA A’s White Lightning enters the Freeroll (from the 04-22-1980 Tartan)
1980 – PiKA’s White Lightning gets pushed on Hill 5 towards victory (from the 04-22-1980 Tartan)
1980 – PiKA celebrates their victory (from the 04-22-1980 Tartan)
1980 – PiKA transitions from Hill 1 to Hill 2 (from the 1981 Thistle)
1980 – CIA Men’s A Team (from the BAA gallery, uploaded by Jaybee0115). Joe Goldcamp hat. Avi Orenstein seated driver Chari Heim.
1980 – SigNu brings Brother Rat back out to the course (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Lemuroid).


Raceday: Sunday Afternoon, May 3* (Finals originally scheduled for Saturday, April 26 at 9:00am)

Sweepstakes Committee: May Slava (Chair); Sheila Dunham (Ass. Chair); Michael Fox (Safety); Pam Bazzy (Design); Michelle Polimus (Buggy Book)

Men’s Results: (1) CIA A – Black Magic (2:10.5 – COURSE RECORD); (2) SigNu A – ESP (2:14.2); (3) PiKA B – White Lightning (2:18.5); (4) Beta A (2.18.7); (5) KapSig A – Mirage (2:21.0); (6) ATO A (2:23.0)

Women’s Results: (1) SDC A – Blue Haze (3:04.8); (2) CIA A (3:07.2); (3) SDC B (3:34.2)

Design Comp: (1) Beta – Echo; (2) SigNu – ESP; (3) DTD – Cyclone

Weather: Sunny, 60-64 Degrees on Sunday (Rain on Friday and Saturday)

Buggy Book: 1981 Buggy Book Link

Prediction Score: N/A (Missing the Tartan Archives that would have included predictions)

Paved roads and warm weather (courtesy of a delay) in 1981 led to a big drop in the course record. But the even bigger story was the organization that set that record, earning the first ever independent victory.

  • PiKA Enters the 3-Wheel Club.  Since the end of World War II, most buggies used on the course had been 4-wheeled buggies, with a few organizations focusing on 2-wheeled bikes.  The one major exception to that was BSR/PiLam, who rolled their 3-wheeler The Dolphin (and offshoots Blue Dolphin and Baby Dolphin) for a long period of time.  However, while The Dolphin was often seen as having the fastest freerolls, it had stability issues and rarely finished the course successfully.  But in 1981, PiKA must have seen something intriguing in the design.  Because they decided to build their first 3-wheeler, Silver Bullet.  And they had such faith in their new 3-wheeler that they used it as their A-team buggy, pushing 1980’s course record-setter White Lightning down to the B team.  But this turned out to be unwise.  Silver Bullet, much like The Dolphin before it, suffered from stability issues, and in the final heat of the day, Heat 12, PiKA spun out in the Chute, costing them their chance at a 2nd consecutive win.  A 1983 article in the Pittsburgh Press, entitled “Calculated Craziness”, suggests that this spin may have been the result of tire failure, as the article notes that a buggy spun out when its tires ripped apart in the chute and spectators ran to collect pieces of the tires to analyze.
  • More New Buggies.  PiKA wasn’t the only org to build a new buggy in 1981.  DU began a multi-year process of putting together a modern buggy, but they rolled out the first stage in 1981, which they fittingly named “Not Yet”.  Fringe built a buggy that was supposed to be so fast that no one could ever catch it, which is why they named it Vanishing Point.  It featured a very unique 3-wheel design, with 2 wheels on the right (in the front and back) and one wheel on the left (in the middle). KapSig managed to build a buggy in just 3 weeks, and saw it finish 5th in its first Raceday, an impressive feat for the new buggy Mirage.  PhIKap produced a third in a series of frame buggies, which they appropriately named White Trash.  PiLam, after years of trying to duplicate The Dolphin with little success, finally hit on a solid aerodynamic design with their new 3-wheeler, The Falcon.  And lastly, Theta Xi once again changed the name of their old feet-first buggy Xiclone to better reflect where the buggy stood in 1981.  The buggy’s new name was Slow Death.
  • Rain, Rain and More Rain.  They say that April showers bring May flowers, and that turned out to be true of Buggy as well in 1981.  Raceday was initially scheduled alongside Spring Carnival, on Friday and Saturday, April 25-26.  But Friday’s raceday never had a chance of happening, as rains prevented buggies from ever hitting the course.  Saturday got started but never finished, as the rains came during the races and cancelled Saturday’s rolls as well.  Although the rain date would normally be the next day (Sunday), Sweepstakes couldn’t get the road permits for that day, due to it being the same day as the March of Dimes, a Vietnam Veterans rally in Schenley Park, and Pitt’s graduation, all of which required police protection.  The following Saturday was also out because of a CMU track meet conflict.  Therefore, Sweepstakes landed on the following Sunday, May 3, as the official Men’s Raceday.  It was the first time that both scheduled days of racing had been rained out.
  • Funding For the Rain Date.  Sweepstakes did not initially plan for a rain date in 1981, so they had to request the permits after the races were cancelled on Saturday.  But permits (and police, and assorted other Raceday elements) cost money.  So Sweepstakes approached Student Senate about funding for the rain date.  And Student Senate ultimately approved the expense, agreeing to fund the $525 needed for the permits, the police, electricity and haybales for the rain date.
  • Raceday Goes Without a Broadcast.  WRCT wrote a letter to the editor in the May 5, 1981 Tartan, apologizing for not broadcasting the races.  Ultimately, they were unable to broadcast the race because of limited available equipment, funding, and staff.  The letter noted that to typically run the broadcast, WRCT requests 14 broadcasters, 1.5 miles of cable, and over 400 watts of audio power, and they were unable to put all of that together given the late rescheduling of Raceday.
  • Roads Paved.  The Men’s Races may have been delayed a week, but there were a couple of things going in the racers’ favor.  One was that the new date was in May and was an afternoon race, meaning better weather and pushers that were likely more awake.  The second thing was that the roads had been freshly paved.  We don’t know exactly when they were paved, or which portion of the course had received the new roadway, but the Tartan noted that this may be last time for “decades” that the buggies would receive this high quality of a course (it didn’t actually take that long).
  • Women’s Racing Expands and Gets Competitive.  The Men’s races may have gotten pushed back a week, but the Women’s races were only pushed back by an hour.  Saturday’s Raceday was not immediately cancelled; instead, Sweepstakes delayed the first roll from 9am to 10am in order to give the roads a chance to dry.  And they dried enough so that the women’s teams could take the course.  In total, 8 women’s teams competed (up from 5 in 1980), and so the race was run in 3 heats.  The first heat saw one of the favorites, CIA A, go up against DTD A and Fringe B.  CIA put up a strong time, finishing the race in 3:07.2.  DTD earned a 3:39.4 (which would be good enough for 6th).  Fringe B was in 3rd, but spun out in the Chute (no one was injured).  In Women’s Heat 2, SDC B easily beat DU A, earning a 3rd place time of 3:34.2 vs. DU’s 3:51.6.  In the final heat, the other favorite, SDC A’s Blue Haze, tackled CIA B and Fringe A.  In the end, SDC A came away victorious, clocking in a 3:04.8, beating CIA A by 2.5 seconds.  CIA B and Fringe A rolled a 3:35.8 and 3:38.8, respectively, which was good for 4th and 5th overall.  SDC’s winning team consisted of Michelle Chambliss (Hill 1), Gretchen Maerker (Hill 2), Patty Prim (Hill 3), Lori Zuti (Hill 4), and Karen Chapman (Hill 5), and they pushed the male driver Robert Krauthamer.
  • A One-Race Preview. As noted above, Saturday didn’t get cancelled immediately.  In fact, the Men’s heats actually got underway, with one race occurring.  The first heat was scheduled to be SDC D in Lane 2 and KapSig C in Lane 3, but SDC D ended up scratching and the heat was eliminated (KapSig was moved back one heat).  Instead, the first race matched PiKA D’s Pi-thon in Lane 2 against Theta Xi B (we believe with their buggy Relayer) in Lane 1 and KapSig C’s Bomb (formerly known as I Forget and Pipe Dream III) in Lane 3.  The race wasn’t close, as PiKA D easily won in 2:29.  KapSig C would earn a 2:48.8, and Theta Xi B clocked in at 3:34.3.  But none of those times would ultimately count.  The rain started falling right after the race, and the rest of Saturday’s races were cancelled.
1981 – The only Men’s heat that took place on Saturday – Theta Xi B and their buggy Relayer appears to be in front (left), with PiKA D’s Pi-thon second (right) and KapSig C’s Bomb (previously I Forget and Pipe Dream III) trailing (from the 04-28-1981 Tartan)
  • SigNu Improves Their Wheels.  In 1981, SigNu found a way to improve their wheel technology – they acquired tires from Goodyear. And the tires they acquired seemed to fit in pretty well with SigNu’s heat treatment procedures, because SigNu A’s ESP put up a roll on Sunday that had never been seen before.  Coming out of Lane 3 in Heat 9, SigNu A went up against PhiKap B’s Shadow in Lane 2 and Fringe A’s new buggy, Vanishing Point in Lane 1.  The heat itself was very exciting for multiple reasons.  SigNu reached the freeroll first and set a blistering pace in the freeroll.  The buggy reportedly rolled an amazing 9 “Windows” (a unit of measure of a buggy’s rollout into Hill 3, based on the windows on Porter Hall at which the Hill 3 pusher picks up the buggy) on its way to a course record 2:14.2 time.  Meanwhile, behind them PhiKap B spun out in the chute and earned a DNF.  As soon as PhiKap spun out, the brake flags went out for Fringe and Fringe’s driver hit the brakes, causing the buggy to spin out as soon as the brakes were applied.  Some spectators felt that Fringe’s spin was unrelated to the PhiKap crash, but Sweepstakes didn’t agree and Fringe A was granted a reroll.  But it seems that the universe may have agreed with the spectators, as Fringe A spun out again in their reroll and would earn a DNF anyway.
  • CIA Makes History.  SigNu was probably feeling pretty good about their course record time.  But that good feeling lasted all of 1 heat.  Heat 10 saw CIA A’s Black Magic, in Lane 3, going up against DU A in Lane 2 and PiLam A in Lane 1.  But even though the heat was 3 A teams, it wasn’t expected to be close, and it wasn’t.   CIA A absolutely crushed the field with their combination of buggy, driver, and pusher, clocking in at 2:10.5 and demolishing the course record set one heat earlier by SigNu.  The only disappointment from CIA came when PiKA A spun out, as it meant that they didn’t beat PiKA on time alone.  But the win was monumental, and not just because this was the biggest leap in a course record in about 15 years.  With the win, CIA became the first independent organization to ever win the Men’s Races.
  • Other DNFs.  The 1981 Raceday went off pretty cleanly.  Other than the three spin-outs noted above (PiKA A, PhiKap B and Fringe A), the only other incident came from Fringe B’s Flying Buttress, who also spun out before the Chute and earned a DNF.
  • Full Results.  While we work to update our history database, below are the full results from 1981, courtesy of Tom Wood:
    • Men’s
      1. CIA A (Black Magic) – 2:10.5
      2. SigNu A (ESP) – 2:14.2
      3. PiKA B (White Lightning) – 2:18.5
      4. Beta C – 2:18.7
      5. KapSig A (Mirage) – 2:21.0
      6. ATO A – 2:23.0
      7. SDC C – 2:23.4
      8. CIA B – 2:23.5
      9. PiKA C (Stingray) – 2:24.2
      10. PiKA D (Pi-thon) – 2:25.1
      11. Beta B – 2:25.9
      12. SAE B – 2:26.0
      13. DTD A – 2:26.1
      14. ATO B – 2:29.9
      15. PhiKap – 2:30.0
      16. KapSig B ($34.95) – 2:32.9
      17. KapSig C (Bomb) – 2:33.0
      18. SAE A – 2:35.2
      19. ZBT A – 2:35.5
      20. PiLam B – 2:36.0
      21. DTD B – 2:36.1
      22. Theta Xi A – 2:37.8
      23. Beta A – 2:39.4
      24. DU A – 2:39.9
      25. SDC B – 2:40.8
      26. PhiKap C – 2:41.1
      27. ZBT B – 2:43.3
      28. SigNu B – 2:47.3
      29. PiLam A – 3:03.5
      30. Theta Xi B – 3:04.1
      31. SAE C – 3:04.8
      32. DNFs: PiKA A, PhiKap B, Fringe A, Fringe B (Unknown: SDC A)
    • Women’s
      1. SDC A (Blue Haze) – 3:04.8
      2. CIA A – 3:07.2
      3. SDC B – 3:34.2
      4. CIA B – 3:35.8
      5. Fringe A – 3:38.8
      6. DTD A – 3:39.4
      7. DU A – 3:51.6
      8. DNF – Fringe B
  • 1981 Photos. Below are photos from 1981:
1981 – A GIF of still images during a Back Hills transition of SigNu’s ESP, with Scott Krump pushing Hill 4 (from the 05-05-1981 Tartan)
1981 – Heat 12 with PiKA A’s Joe Brado pushing Silver Bullet in Lane 3 (foreground), PhiKap A’s Streak in Lane 1 (center background), and KapSig B’s Bomb trailing in Lane 2 (far right background) (from the 1982 Thistle)
1981 – SDC Women’s A with Karen Chapman pushing Hill 5 and Robert Krauthammer driving Blue Haze in victory (from the 04-28-1981 Tartan)
1981 – KapSig’s Mirage reaches a flagger in the freeroll (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by tbach0729; also printed in the 05-05-1981 Tartan)
1981 – SAE’s Limo at the bottom of Hill 1 (from the 1982 Thistle)
1981 – Sweepstakes Chair May Slava (right) and Safety Chair Mike Fox (left) (from the 05-05-1981 Tartan)
1981 – CIA Team Photo (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Jaybee0115). Joe Goldcamp kissing buggy, Avi Orenstein to his left. Peter Mariani ’83 in profile half way up and behind pushbar
1981 – Hill 1-2 Transition for SigNu A’s ESP, with Albrecht to Hahn and Any Morton driving (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Lemuroid)
1981 – CIA A’s Black Magic on Hill 1 (from the 05-05-1981 Tartan)
1981 – PiKA B’s White Lightning passes ATO A’s Quarter Horse in the Freeroll (from the 05-05-1981 Tartan)
1981 – DU A’s Not Yet (foreground, Lane 2) and PiLam A’s Falcon (background, Lane 1) at the Hill 1-2 Transition in Heat 11 (from the 1982 Thistle)
1981 – The Front Hills of Prelims Heat 6, with KapSig A’s Mirage in Lane 2 (foreground) and PiLam B’s Baby Dolphin in Lane 3 (background) (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by TBach0729). Not pictured is PiKA C in Lane 1.
1981 – Beta Posing with Echo (from the 1982 Thistle)
1981 – SAE’s Hustler on the back hills (from the 1982 Thistle)
1981 – KapSig’s Mirage on the back hills (from the 1982 Thistle)
1981 – CIA’s Black Magic at Design Competition with Mark Mastandrea (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Jaybee0115)
1981 – CIA Men’s B with pusher Brandt transitioning to Delo (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Jaybee0115).


Raceday: Unknown Dates

Sweepstakes Committee: Elaine Andrysick (Chair); Melanie McMurtry (Ass. Chair); Jim Gresh (Safety); Joe Wagner (Design); Charlotte Heim (Buggy Book)

Men’s Results: (1) SigNu A – Lemur (2:10.79); (2) PiKA A – Bandit (2:13.53); (3) CIA A – Black Magic (2:16.5); (4) SigNu B (2.18.3); (5) PiKA B – White Lightning (2:18.46); (6) Beta A – Presence (2:19.0)

Women’s Results: (1) CIA A – Black Magic (2:49.29); (2) SDC A; (3) CIA B – Dark Star

Design Comp: (1) SigNu – ESP

Weather: Unknown weather

Buggy Book: 1982 Buggy Book Link

Prediction Score: N/A (Missing the Tartan Archives that would have included predictions)

1982 is a little awkward, because we don’t have the Tartan archives from that year, so there’s no written record. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have the biggest story from the year. We’ve compiled what we’ve received from the people who were there, but if you’ve got your own stories, let us know!

  • Birth of the Modern 3-Wheeler.  BSR’s The Dolphin may not have been a competitive buggy, but that’s not because it wasn’t fast, as it was widely considered the fastest freerolling buggy in its early years.  Likewise, PiKA’s Silver Bullet may not have completed the race in 1981, but they were moving fast in the freeroll.  So it’s no surprise that, in 1982, orgs considered moving to 3-wheels.  And the leader of the group was SigNu.  SigNu, in their sole mission to defeat PiKA, probably said to themselves “ESP, we can take your idea and make it actually work!”  And so SigNu went off and built their own 3-wheeler in 1982, which went by the name Lemur.  And sure enough, they succeeded where PiKA didn’t.  Lemur was stable, making it through the Chute turn without issue, and earning the top time during Prelims before going on to win by 3 seconds in the Finals.  But they weren’t alone. CIA also built their own 3-wheeler, mixing things up by putting 2 wheels in front and 1 in back to form Dark Star. The Pittsburgh Press seemed to see the future of 3-wheelers as well, as an article entitled “Calculated Craziness” in the March 20, 1983 edition specifically pointed out that three 3-wheelers raced on Raceday in 1982 (though it seems that there were actually more): Lemur (a standard trike), Dark Star (a reverse trike), and Vanishing Point (a unique buggy with front and back wheels on the right side and a middle wheel on the left). PiKA, meanwhile, tried a different approach to fixing the 3-wheel stability issues, adding a larger wheel base and cross-section, naming the new buggy Bandit, but they had to settle for 2nd, nearly 3 seconds behind SigNu (but setting a house record with a 2:13.53 and finishing 3 seconds ahead of 3rd).
  • New Buggies.  SigNu’s Lemur may have been the best of the new crop, but it wasn’t the only member.  Beta designed and raced a new buggy as their A team, known as Presence.  DU progressed from 1981’s Not Yet to complete the build cycle with 1982’s Diffusion.    PhiKap appears to have had a new buggy named Witch roll in 1982.  Theta Xi rolled out a new buggy, codenamed XM-1, to go along with their veteran Slow Death (nee Xiclone).  And PiKA built 2 new buggies for 1982; the previously mentioned Bandit, and another new buggy named Land Shark.
  • Echo BounceWithout the Tartan from 1982, we have little in the way of written history (see below for an update).  The heats are listed in the Buggy Book and the Men’s times are already included in the BAA history database, so there’s no need to rehash all of them here. And unfortunately, we don’t have the women’s times other than the winner, which is also already included in the database.  But we do have one notable addition, and it comes from Beta B’s Echo.  Coming out of Lane 1 in Prelims Heat 7 against SDC B and DTD B, Beta was well in front in the heat.  Unfortunately, when they reached the Chute turn, the driver oversteered, spinning and ending up the haybales.  The photo looks a little more dramatic, though, as it appears that the two front wheels were off of the ground at least once during the spin. The reason wasn’t given, but according to the Tartan, Beta was granted a reroll on Saturday solely to compete in Design Competition (not for racing), and they did enough to qualify for Design, beating the 2:36 needed to qualify (though the actual time wasn’t listed). Other notables include Beta D, which was DQ’d, Theta Xi A, which crashed, and PhiKap D and ZBT C, both of which scratched.
1982 – Beta B’s Echo spins out in the Chute (from the 04-19-1983 Tartan)
  • Buggy Rollout. The most exciting Finals Heat came in Finals Heat 2, where PiKA A’s Bandit (the second fastest time from Prelims) went up against SigNu B’s ESP (the fifth fastest time). Unsurprisingly, PiKA’s A team won the battle up the front hills and went through the freeroll in the lead. But according to Mark Estes, SigNu’s ESP had an “epic rollout” on Hill 3, ultimately pulling even with PiKA A as they reached the Hill 3-4 transition. PiKA A’s pushers were stronger and would eventually pull away from SigNu B, winning the heat by almost 5 seconds, but the fast freeroll briefly led to some excitement and drama.
  • Jostling for Position. Men’s Finals Heat 1 was apparently a little more exciting that we previously believed,and now we understand why a reroll was granted. In that heat, PiKA B’s White Lightning came out of Lane 2, going up against CIA A’s defending champion Black Magic in Lane 3. But in a bit of a surprise, PiKA won the up-and-over, getting into the freeroll first. Black Magic tried to pass at some point but the buggies bumped into each other. It was clear that something had happened, either caused by the bumping or Black Magic braking, as the Tartan notes that Black Magic was noticeably slower in the Chute. PiKA B won the heat, but because of the collision, Sweepstakes granted CIA a reroll and the reroll was good enough to get CIA A a 3rd place finish.
  • Hazard Pay for Photographers. 2 years after writing this article, we’ve uncovered part of the Tartan’s recap of Raceday! And what did it reveal? That being a photographer is a dangerous job. In Men’s Prelims Heat 14, Theta Xi A’s Slow Death went up against PiKA A’s Bandit and PhiKap B’s Shadow. PiKA earned the second fastest time of the day, but the real story came from Theta Xi. Slow Death wasn’t meant to be taken literally, but a photographer decided to test that theory. Slow Death hit the photographer and spun out, earning a DNF. While the driver was fine (and the buggy presumably was too), the photographer didn’t fare as well and was taken to the hospital with an undisclosed injury.
  • Finals Delayed. We don’t know what time Saturday’s finals were scheduled to start, but they ended up being delayed nearly an hour. The reason was a not uncommon one – a car was parked in one of the parking spots for Phipps Conservatory near the monument and needed to be towed.
  • Alumni Heats. Three heats of alumni teams competed on Saturday morning for the unofficial (or maybe it was official?) alumni crown. The first heat was a very close affair between Beta’s 825, SigNu’s Scorpion, and an unidentified PhiKap buggy. In the end, it was Beta, whose push team was “assembled only minutes before”, crossing the line first in 2:33.74, followed by SigNu in 2:34.39 and PhiKap in 2:34.67. The second heat saw SAE, ATO, and ZBT compete, but according to the Tartan, only 1 of those 3 runs counted. SAE crossed the finish line in 2:42.13, the slowest of the teams to that point. ATO was “disqualified” for using 8 pushers (though it’s unclear if that was an advantage), and ZBT was “disqualified” for missing the pushbar at the finish line. The third and final heat was the deciding heat, with KapSig’s Mirage, DTD’s Cyclone, and PiKA’s Pi-Thon competing. The win went to PiKA, with a dominating 2:25.17 performance, but the real drama came from the other two, as DTD and KapSig “had quite a battle for second place” in the heat, before DTD finally squeezed past KapSig at the wire, both in unknown times. That gave the alumni title to PiKA, followed by Beta and SigNu.
  • Women’s Races. The women’s races were apparently uneventful, with CIA dominating their two heats and SDC dominating the third. The only notable moment according to the Tartan was the CIA A’s Black Magic, in Heat 1, “made it through the Chute a bit sloppily”. However, that didn’t do anything to prevent CIA from breaking the Women’s course record by roughly 15 seconds.
  • 1982 Photos. Below are some photos from 1982.
1982 – CIA Women’s A’s Debbie Kovacs pushes Black Magic to victory (from the 04-19-1983 Tartan)
1982 – PiKA’s White Lightning on the back hills, finishing 5th overall (from the 1982 Tartan)
1982 – Beta’s POS on the Back Hills (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – Hill 1 of what appears to be Prelims Heat 2, with KapSig D (black, left) in Lane 1, SDC D’s Triskelion (no cover, center) in Lane 2, and Beta D (red, right) in Lane 3 (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – SigNu’s ESP on the Back Hills (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – Unidentified buggies in the Chute (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – SDC’s Excalibur enters the Chute (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – An unidentified buggy, possibly SDC’s Blue Haze, in the Chute (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – John Brandt pushes CIA A’s Black Magic up Hill 1 (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Jaybee0115)
1982 – SigNu’s ESP, the Design Winner, at Design Comp (from the 1982 Tartan)
1982 – CIA A’s Black Magic on the Back Hills (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – CIA’s Black Magic on the Back Hills (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Jaybee0115)
1982 – CIA B’s Dark Star leads 2 other unknown buggies on the back hills (from the 04-19-1983 Tartan). We think the other buggies might be KapSig A (back right) and SAE A (back left).
1982 – PiKA B’s White Lightning at the Hill 3-4 Transition (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – SigNu A’s Lemur leads Beta A’s Presence at the Transition Flag of Finals Heat 3 (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – An unidentified buggy crossing the Finish Line (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – PiKA walks one of their Buggies (possibly Bandit) to Drops (from the 1983 Thistle)
1982 – SigNu celebrates their victory (from the 04-19-1983 Tartan)
1982 – CIA A Women’s champion team (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Jaybee0115)
1982 – SigNu C’s Scorpion (leading) and Fringe B’s Leroy (trailing) in the freeroll (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Sam Swift)


Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 22; Finals on Saturday, April 23

Sweepstakes Committee: Sandy Ruscin (Chair); Dave Lamont (Safety); Deidre Dennis (Design); Karen Dann (Buggy Book); Luan Denny (Publicity)

Men’s Results: (1) PiKA B – Bullet (2:09.0 – COURSE RECORD); (2) Beta A – Vixen (2:10.0); (3) SigNu A – Lemur (2:11.0); (4) CIA A – Black Magic (2.14.8); (5) PiKA A – Godzilla (2:18.2); (6) PiKA C – Bandit (2:18.5)

Women’s Results: (1) CIA A – Black Magic (2:46.5); (2) SDC A – Blue Haze (2:50.0); (3) CIA B – Dark Star (2:55.3)

Design Comp: Unknown

Weather: Partly Cloudy, 49-60 Degrees on Friday; Variable Clouds, 53-63 Degrees on Saturday

Buggy Book: 1983 Buggy Book Link

Prediction Score: 13/45 M, 19/27 W (Compubookie); 22/34 M (Buggy Chair Consensus)

1983 was a copycat year, as we saw multiple organizations roll out three wheelers. Plus, PiKA tried to make a technological innovation, and when that failed, they decided to work the system instead.

  • ATO Suspended.  1983 was the beginning of the end for the brothers of Alpha Tau Omega.  The Fall of 1982 saw a series of events involving ATO that the University could not ignore.  They included a female student being sent to the hospital after being struck by apples thrown by ATO brothers from a truck, the chopping down and theft of an evergreen tree (valued at $900) from Schenley Park, and incidents of public nudity.  As a result, in January of 1983, CMU suspended ATO from the campus for one year, prohibiting the fraternity from participating in campus events, including Buggy.  In addition, the fraternity was put on probation until 1985 and 7 of the brothers were removed from the house and evicted from University housing.  There is a suggestion, however, that ATO may have entered the t-shirt design contest.  We don’t know if that actually happened, however, or if they won.
  • Calculated Craziness.  The March 20, 1983 Pittsburgh Press ran a multi-page feature on Buggy, entitled “Calculated Craziness”.  Although it’s written for the masses, it does have some interesting facts about the mindset and technology of 1983.  A significant portion of the article deals with the heating and treating of tires.  It states that there are 3 philosophies about chemically treating wheels (with the chemical being Benzene): (1) it retains heat better, (2) it makes the rubber softer, and (3) it makes the wheel bounce better.  The tires are heated to impart energy and make lubrication in the bearings flow more freely, but of course, too much heat can be problematic, as it can make the rubber too soft.  There is also some additional information about the role ATO had in the heating of tires and an incident in 1981, but those have been covered previously in this series.  But the article wasn’t just about tires. It notes that in 1981 a buggy was carried off after a crash, but not before 2 “spies” stretched out on the street and took photos of the buggy’s underside.  And it discusses the major push to improve safety in Buggy after the accident of 1971.  One change was that drivers must now qualify for Raceday through practice, pass tests, and brake tests administered before and immediately after each race, and another was that in the event of a crash and injury, the driver is left unmoved until evaluated (and if necessary, the driver is taken inside the buggy to the hospital).
  • Predictions.  In 1983, Compubookie finally decided to start paying attention to all of the orgs, rather than just the top contenders.  Though I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.  For the first time, the Tartan include an org-by-org capsule for all of the orgs competing (and one, ATO, that wasn’t).  Compubookie noted that Beta seemed to be getting serious about buggy again, while CIA seemed to be losing interest.  Overall, the Men’s predictions were (1) SigNu A; (2) PiKA A; (3) Beta A; (4) SigNu B; (5) PiKA B; (6) CIA A, with “others to watch” of KapSig A, Beta B, PiKA C, and CIA B (the “others to watch” were excluded from the prediction score), with a winning time of 2:09.2 (Compubookie ended up being just 0.2 seconds off) and the “best heat” being Prelim Heat 8 (PiKA C, Fringe A, and SigNu B).  Compubookie also predicted the Women’s heats, going with (1) CIA A, (2) SDC A, (3) PiLam A, and then to cap it off he predicted that PiKA would win the alumni heats.  But it wasn’t just Compubookie doing the predicting this year.  Beginning in 1983, the Tartan ran an org-by-org summary, talking to the buggy chairs of each organization and asking for the names of their buggies, any “technological developments or edges” that they have, and their outlook for Sweepstakes.  They also asked for each chair’s predictions on the Men’s side, excluding their own team (well, other than PiKA, who voted for themselves), and I have assembled a “consensus” prediction, based on a 5-3-1 point system.  The collective buggy chairs predicted (1) SigNu, (2) PiKA, (3) Beta, and (4) CIA.
  • Buggies on the Course.  We’ve been trying to keep up with new buggies that are built every year, but some may have slipped through the cracks.  So it helps that in 1983, the Tartan gave us a list of all the buggies competing, and their respective teams.  So we’re going to take this opportunity to provide that list, so you can see where we stood in 1983.
    • SigNu – Lemur (A), ESP (B), Scorpion (C)
    • ZBT – Pegasus (A), Prophecy (B)
    • SDC – Blue Haze (A), Excalibur (B), Triskelion (C), Opus (D)
    • Beta – Vixen (A), Presence (B), Echo (C), 825 (D)
    • KapSig – ATF/Fyre (A), Minuteman (B), Mirage (C), $34.95 (D)
    • PiLam – Legend (A), Falcon (B), Blue Dolphin (C)
    • SAE – Intrepid (A), Hustler (B), Limo (C)
    • PhiKap – Stiletto (A), Streak (B), Shadow (C), White Witch (D)
    • PiKA – Godzilla (A), Bullet (nee Silver Bullet) (B), Bandit (C), White Lightning (D)
    • CIA – Black Magic (A), Dark Star (B), Synergy (C)
    • Theta Xi – Vapor (A), Relayer (B), Slow Death (C)
    • DTD – Cyclone (A), Delta Queen (B)
    • Fringe – Buttress (A), Bumpzoid (B)
    • DU – Thumper (nee Not Yet) (A), Diffusion (B)
  • 3 Wheels A Plenty.  Everyone knows that in the sports world, once someone does something successful, everyone has to immediately follow.  And they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  So in that case, SigNu must have felt pretty flattered.  Because their dominance with Lemur in 1982 would ultimately lead to the rise of the 3-wheeler and the death of the 4-wheeler.  And it all started pretty quickly.  PiKA had a little experience with 3-wheelers in 1981’s Silver Bullet (now just called Bullet), so they went back to the well in 1983 to produce Godzilla.  Beta built a new 3-wheeler named Vixen.  And PiLam did what they did best, producing another 3-wheeler, this one by the name of Legend.
  • Drop It Like It’s A Pushbar.  Losing a wheel wasn’t the only change that PiKA made in their new build of 1983, Godzilla.  PiKA realized that they had a good design, but there was one feature that was holding back their aerodynamics – the pushbar.  They had an idea; what if there was a way to make the pushbar go down during the freeroll so that it didn’t slow down the buggy.  So as part of the new design, they added in a dropping pushbar.  At the start of the freeroll, the driver would press a button inside the buggy and the pushbar would drop.  Then, when the buggy reached Hill 3, the driver would press the button again and the pushbar would rise.  Of course, since this was a new design, PiKA had the pushbar drop in the way that made the most sense – backwards.  That would turn out to be a problem, but it would take a couple of years to realize it (more on that next week).
  • Other New Buggies in 1983.  Not all of the new buggies in 1983 were 3-wheelers (or we don’t know if they were).  PhiKap built a new buggy, named Stiletto, that rolled as their A team.  ZBT also put together a new build, which they named Prophecy.  We don’t know how many wheels either of these had.
  • Women’s Races.  The only drama coming from the women’s races in 1983 was whether CIA A’s placement in Heat 1 would hamper the team.  The answer turned out to be no, as a push team that included Debbie Kovacs, Gina Illig, and Lori Zuti combined to push Black Magic and driver Andrea Bertoli to a course record 2:46.5.  Theta Xi A and Fringe A also competed in the heat.  Women’s Heat 2 paired SigNu A’s Scorpion against PiLam A’s Legend, but neither team had strong pushers and both finished well out of the top spots (the Heat Schedule also had SDC B in this heat, but we have no information about whether they raced or their time).  Women’s Heat 3 pitted CIA B’s Dark Star against a group of TriDelt pushers pushing Echo for Beta, and KapSig A.  The race was close between CIA and Beta/TriDelt, but CIA B pulled away on the back hills and finished in a 3rd place overall time of 2:55.3, against Beta/TriDelt’s 2:59.4.  The final heat would be the decider, as the women of SDC A, with their buggy Blue Haze, were the only real contender to beat CIA A.  But Black Magic is a faster buggy than Blue Haze, and as a result, SDC finished 2nd, with a time of 2:50.0.  Fringe A also competed in the last heat.
  • Theta Xi Swaps Places.  During the Prelims, Theta Xi swapped their A and B teams from what was originally listed in the Heat Schedule.  The A team pushers and Vapor, the A buggy, ended up taking the Theta Xi B slot on the course in Prelims Heat 13, while the B team and B buggy Relayer filled in at the A slot in Prelims Heat 4.  But even though the swap was made, the time put up by the A team pushers and buggy was officially credited to Theta Xi B.  So when you look at the times and notice that the Theta Xi B team was 13 seconds faster than the A team, you’ll understand why. We’re not exactly sure why this happened, but it’s possible that another team was watching closely and got an idea…
  • Men’s Prelims Recap, Part 1.  The April 26, 1983 Tartan has a heat-by-heat recap of Raceday 1983, but the Heat Schedule is included in the 1983 Buggy Book and there aren’t a ton of interesting stories from the Prelims, so we’re summarizing the notable items here.  Heat 1 was a matchup of the “perennial doormats”, PiLam C’s Blue Dolphin, SAE C’s Limo, and Theta Xi C’s Slow Death.  Unfortunately, someone had to win the heat, and as the least bad team, that honor went to Theta Xi C.  Heat 3 saw PhiKap B’s Streak get DQ’d for failing drops, but the bigger drama came from SigNu C’s Scorpion, whose front hatch came loose on Hill 2, causing driver Janet Hemmerle to hit the brakes and stop the buggy, earning a DNF.  SDC D’s Opus scratched out of the race, so rather than run PiKA D’s White Lightning alone in Heat 4, Sweepstakes combined Heats 4 and 5, with PiKA D going up against Theta Xi A’s Relayer and SAE A’s Intrepid.  The race was the closest of the day (only 2.5 seconds separated all three teams, with PiKA D winning), but none of the times were competitive.  But the scheduling change may have affected Beta B in Heat 6, because their final time of 2:21.2 was slower than expected, and even though they qualified for the Finals it was a disappointing performance.  Heat 6 also saw some drama from PhiKap C’s Shadow.  The brothers had cut the timing close for carrying Shadow out to the starting line, and as they were carrying it, one of the brothers tripped and fell, dropping the buggy.  They managed to get to the starting line just in time, but the damage from the drops may have caused something to go awry in the braking system, as the buggy would end up being DQ’d for failing drops.  Prelims Heat 7 had CIA B’s Dark Star easily win the heat, and the Tartan remarked that ZBT B’s Prophecy and SDC C’s Triskelian “barely made it to the finish line before the next heat started.”
  • Men’s Prelims Recap, Part 2. Prelims Heat 8 was predicted to be the most exciting and that turned out to be correct, as PiKA C’s Bandit and SigNu B’s ESP (2 buggies that made the top 6 in 1982) came down the back hills together, with less than 2 lengths separating the 2. SigNu’s superior freeroll allowed the team to hold off PiKA’s superior back hill pushers, and SigNu B won the heat (in a slow 2:23, not good enough for Finals).  But a back hills pusher for SigNu B ended up stepping on the PiKA C buggy, and PiKA C was granted a reroll to be run on Saturday, where they put up a 6th place time of 2:18.5. People had high hopes for KapSig A and their new buggy ATF in Prelims Heat 9, but it disappointed, clocking in at 2:24.1.  Instead, the excitement came from the back of that heat, as PiLam B’s 3-wheeled buggy Falcon came from behind on the back hills to clip DTD A’s Cyclone by half a second.  KapSig B’s Minuteman was DQ’d from Prelims Heat 12, though we don’t have the reason.  Prelims Heat 13 also had a DQ, as SDC A’s Blue Haze was DQ’d for a pushbar violation, while Theta Xi B’s Vapor was the surprise of the day (see the note about Theta Xi above), finishing 2nd to SigNu A’s 1982 Champion Lemur but in a time of 2:21.6, which put them in 7th for the Prelims.  And in the final Heat of the day, Prelims Heat 15, PiKA A’s Godzilla may have won the race and impressed with its dropping pushbar, but the excitement came from PiLam A’s Legend, who spun in the Chute but was granted a reroll (where they spun out again).
  • PiKA Games The System.  PiKA entered Raceday 1983 with some uncertainty about which of their 3-wheeled buggies were better – Bullet (which spun out in 1981) or the new collapsible pushbar buggy Godzilla.  PiKA’s Chair, Bill “Sonny” Shank, decided to go with Godzilla as the A team buggy.  But it didn’t take long for him to realize he had made a mistake.  In the final heat of Friday, Prelim Heat 15, Godzilla had a 6-window rollout with the A team pushers, setting the top time of the day at 2:11.9. But 4 heats earlier, in Heat 11, Bullet had a 5-window rollout and a final time of 2:13.3 with the far inferior B team pushers.  That outcome suggested that Bullet was the faster buggy.  But something seemed different on Saturday.  In Finals Heat 2, Beta A’s Vixen went up against PiKA B’s Bullet.  Beta A’s pushers were far superior to PiKA B’s based on Day 1 times, particularly on Hill 1 and 2 with Joe Orlowski and Paul Scarmazzi, so it caught everyone by surprise when PiKA stayed neck-and-neck with Beta on the front hills.  Then, in Finals Heat 3, the top team from Prelims, PiKA A, was “destroyed” up the front hills by CIA A, going into the freeroll 1.5 buggy lengths behind, and then after PiKA caught up to CIA in the freeroll, CIA again pulled ahead on the back hills to easily win the heat by almost 4 seconds.  This led to much confusion from the crowd, as PiKA’s 2:18.2 time for an A team was their slowest since 1979.  When a PiKA brother was asked about what happened to their A team buggy and why it got 7 seconds slower, he responded “you’ll see in the next heat”.  It was only after PiKA B rerolled (see below), and set a course record in the process, that people started to realize what happened. In 1983, buggies were locked to their teams – but pushers weren’t.  So since PiKA couldn’t swap their two buggies, they did the next best thing – they swapped their pushers for the Finals.
  • Vixen Takes A Bullet.  As noted above, in Finals Heat 2 PiKA B’s Bullet battled the #2 team from Prelims, Beta A’s Vixen.   PiKA “B” beat Beta A up the hill, and Bullet would continue to hold the lead until the monument, when Vixen’s driver, Patti Carlisle, moved Vixen outside to pass.  She got about half a buggy length ahead when the two turned into the Chute.  But because of their position, neither buggy could see the other, and as they turned, the two buggies collided, leaving both buggies stopped in the Chute.  Beta blamed PiKA for the accident and petitioned to have PiKA DQ’d for contact, and PiKA made the same accusation against Beta.  As the judges were determining what happened, they discovered that a member of Beta, Lee Ferketic, had filmed the incident.  So the race went into film review, and after reviewing the footage, Sweepstakes determined that neither buggy was at fault and both would be granted a reroll. Unfortunately for Beta, PiKA B get to reroll first, costing Beta a spot in the record books. PiKA B would go on to put up a course record time in the first reroll, clocking in at 2:09.0. In the second reroll heat, with SigNu cheering them on and a very strong push team, Beta A came up 1 second short, finishing in 2:10.0 (they rolled 5 windows), which would have set the course record if it had gone first, but instead left Beta with just a 2nd place trophy.  Though an unidentified, rule-following buggy mechanic notes in the May 3, 1983 Tartan that both buggies should have been DQ’d, as the rules start that a team requesting a reroll as a result of a foul must immediately pass drops after the heat in question, but both buggies were rushed back to their trucks so neither performed a drop test.
  • Other Finals Notes. Outside of PiKA, the Finals were pretty uneventful.  In Finals Heat 1, SigNu A’s Lemur, pushed by members of the CMU Hockey team, went up against Beta B’s Presence.  SigNu won the race up the front hills and had a solid 6-window roll-out, allowing them to clock in 3rd overall.
  • Alumni Results. We don’t have the full heats and lineups for the alumni races in 1983, which were actually considered their own division.  But we know that the winning team came out of the first heat, and the honors went to PiKA’s alums, pushing White Lightning in a 2:23.3.  A group of Beta alums, pushing Echo in Heat 3, finished second in 2:25.0, and third place went to SigNu alums and Scorpion in 2:26.2.
1983 – PiKA B’s Bullet (Left) and Beta A’s Vixen (Right) Collide in the Chute 1 (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – PiKA B’s Bullet (Left) and Beta A’s Vixen (Right) Collide in the Chute 2 (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – PiKA B’s Bullet (Left) and Beta A’s Vixen (Right) Collide in the Chute 3 (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – PiKA B’s Bullet (Left) and Beta A’s Vixen (Right) Collide in the Chute 4 (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
  • Evening Magazine. In 1983, Buggy became a national story. The news program Evening Magazine did a profile on the sport. You can watch the segment here:
1983 – Evening Magazine Profile of Buggy
  • 1983 Photos. Below are some photos from 1983:
1983 – Hill 1 with unknown buggies that appear to be Prelims Heat 8 with SigNu B’s ESP in Lane 3 (right) and Fringe A’s Buttress in Lane 2 (left) (from the 04-10-1984 Tartan). PiKA C’s Bandit in Lane 1 is not pictured.
1983 – PiKA B’s Bullet (Left) and Beta A’s Vixen (Right) go into the Chute together (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – PiKA B’s Bullet gets pushed by Bill Gens to a course record time in victory (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – PiKA A’s Godzilla crosses the Finish Line (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – PiKA celebrates their B Team victory (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – CIA A’s Black Magic enters the Freeroll in Finals Heat 3 (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – CIA Women’s A at the Hill 3-4 Transition (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – CIA’s Synergy during practice (from the 03-20-1983 Pittsburgh Press)
1983 – Starting Line of Prelims Heat 8 with SigNu B’s ESP in Lane 3 (right), Fringe A’s Buttress in Lane 2 (middle), and PiKA C’s Bandit in Lane 1 (left, half-pictured) (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – An unidentified buggy on Hill 5 (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – Fringe posing with Buttress (from the 1983 Thistle)
1983 – Fringe’s Buttress gets pushed at what appears to be Capes (from the 1983 Thistle)
1983 – PiKA’s White Lightning being pushed during practice (from the 03-20-1983 Pittsburgh Press)
1983 – Beta’s Presence gets pushed up the back hills during practice by Mr. Fry (from the 04-19-1983 Tartan)
1983 – An unidentified buggy at Drops during practice (from the 03-20-1983 Pittsburgh Press)
1983 – Entering the freeroll of Prelims Heat 8, with SigNu B’s ESP pushed by Alan Pollard in Lane 3 (foreground), PiKA C’s Bandit in Lane 1 (far left), and Fringe A’s Buttress in Lane 2 (trailing) (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Sam Swift)
1983 – Back Hills of Prelims Heat 8, with SigNu B’s ESP leading PiKA C’s Bandit (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Lemuroid)
1983 – Fringe A’s Buttress being carried to the Starting Line (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Sam Swift). From Left to Right: Nancy Barton (in pink pants) , William H Johnson III, R Scott Durbin and Peter Thomas Comey
1983 – Fringe A’s Buttress with Dienna McCusker driving (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Sam Swift)
1983 – Fringe B’s Bumpzoid in Lane 1 of the front hills in Prelims Heat 12 (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Revo). Per R. Scott Durbin, Bumpzoid no brakes. Just put your foot on the wheel. It’s running Beta’s aluminum wheels, and the rubber was either Fringe’s own “junk” or Beta leftovers. It weighed approximately 39 lbs. Per Mr. Durbin, “Gomer and Hollywood gave me a lot of help, to this day I’m not sure why. I didn’t ask questions. Gomer has to be the biggest driver ever caped tested, he tried out Leroy”
1983 – Beta A’s Vixen with Dave Richards on Hill 5 crosses the Finish Line (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – SigNu A’s Lemur crosses the Finish Line in 3rd (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – CIA A’s Black Magic gets carried out to the Starting Line for the Women’s A team (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Adam McCue)
1983 – CIA Women’s A with Debbie Kovacs pushing Black Magic on the way to victory (from the 04-26-1983 Tartan)
1983 – Theta Xi B’s Vapor at the Hill 1-2 Transition in Prelims Heat 13 (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – Theta Xi “B”‘s Vapor after the race (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – Hill 1 of what appears to be Prelims Heat 11, with PiKA B’s Bullet in Lane 1 (left), SAE B’s Hustler in Lane 2 (middle), and PhiKap D’s White Trash in Lane 3 (right) (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – An unidentified buggy, possibly PiKA’s Godzilla, on the Front Hills (from the 1984 Thistle)
PiKA’s Godzilla entering the Freeroll, possibly in 1983 (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Sam Swift)
1983 – KapSig’s Bob Opalsky loads driver Mary DeLeon during practice (from the 03-20-1983 Pittsburgh Press)
1983 – KapSig’s Bob Opalsky loads driver Mary DeLeon during practice (from the 03-20-1983 Pittsburgh Press)
1983 – KapSig unloads their buggy during practice (from the 03-20-1983 Pittsburgh Press)
1983 – PiKA enters the Chute with a Chute flagger during practice (from the 04-19-1983 Tartan)
1983 – An unknown buggy gets prepped during practice (from the 11-02-1982 Tartan)
1983 – Beta’s Presence being pushed at practice (from the 03-20-1983 Pittsburgh Press)
1983 – Fringe pushing Buttress on the back hills (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – A crowd shot from Maggie Mo (from the 1984 Thistle)
1983 – CIA’s Men’s A team warms up (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Aiton Goldman)

7 thoughts on “100 Years of Buggy History – 1980-1983”

  • Elmo Zoneball says:


    1980 – A KapSig buggy during practice (from the 04-15-1980 Tartan)

    That’s SAE’s “Hustler” — there’s a “Sigma” as the first letter on the pusher’s shirt, and the drag brake of “Hustler” is clearly visible dangling behind the rear axle.

    1981 – An unknown buggy, possibly Fringe’s Buttress, on the back hills (from the 1982 Thistle)

    SAE’s “Hustler” again. The “Iron City” shirt worn by the pusher is a dead give-away.

    • Thanks! These have been updated. Out of curiosity, is the photo above Hustler in 1980 also an SAE buggy (Intrepid?)

      I will say that of all the things that I’ve done for this series, the most difficult BY FAR is IDing photos when no captions were provided (or sometimes even when there WAS a caption, since they’re not always right).

  • a few quick notes:
    The 1981 gif is definitely Sigma Nu’s esp. Scott Crump pushing hill 4.

    I believe the PKA A team buggy in 1982 was a 3 wheeled machine, not 4. As this was my first buggy race, I count as a live witness.

    Worth mentioning was the Sigma Nu B team finish in 4th. In the finals, against PKA A, esp rolling as Sigma Nu B trailed throughout but had an epic rollout on hill 3 and was side by side with PKA A entering the 3-4 exchange.

    What Sigma Nu did to their wheels in 1981 and beyond was not all that secret. They got their hands on some incredible tires from Goodyear. I believe PhiKap also received similar tires in 81. I suspect that Sigma Nu’s wheel prep was easily adapted to using these new wonders while others may have faced a steeper learning curve. Goodyear tires made their way to many orgs over the decade. Not all were able to summon the speed the wheels offered and some batches of Goodyear tires were not so good, particularly the widely distributed batch from the late 80s.

  • This photo form 82 is misidentified (my bad): “1982 – Back Hills of Finals Heat 2, with SigNu B’s ESP leading and PiKA A’s Bandit trailing (from the BAA Gallery, uploaded by Lemuroid)”

    I suspect this is actually 1983 and depicts Zoo b leading PKA C. Zoo B was never in front of PKA A in 82 despite an entertaining heat.

  • Thanks! The Bandit 4-wheeler error was a result of my misunderstanding of some information Tom Wood provided, but it has been corrected. I’ve also added in a paragraph about Finals Heat 2 (SigNu B/PiKA A) in 1982, revised the 1981 wheel tech paragraph, and fixed the captions.

  • The chaos of 1983 finals cannot be understated. The beta A / PKA B roll/ collision was late in the day and getting heats arranged was a challenge. The top 3 results with times of 2:09.00, 2:10.00 and 2:11.00 speak to this chaos. Some believe that the times may bot have not accurately captured and that the published results were an rough approximation. While any 3 final times are just as likely as any other, the perfect rounding to even seconds, does seem a bit unlikely and has never been seen elsewhere in buggy history. This record creating rounding will come up again when the 1985 results are discussed.

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