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This week, the 100 Years of Buggy History Series hones in on 2011. 2011 unfortunately brought with it a large buggy exodus. But 2011 also had an incredibly surprising battle at the top between the defending champion and the would-have-been defending champion, and all it took to win was the fastest recorded freeroll in history.
Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 15 at 8:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 16 at 8:00am
Sweepstakes Committee: Chris Shellhammer (Chair); Janice Chen (Ass. Chair); Fritz Langford (Safety); Rachel Johnson (Design)
Men’s Results: (1) Fringe A – Bonsai (2:05.08); (2) SDC A – Malice (2:06.19); (3) SDC B – Bane (2:09.67); (4) SDC C – Avarice (2:15.22); (5) Spirit A – Zulu Machafuko (2:16.53); (6) Spirit B – Seraph (2:17.74)
Women’s Results: (1) SDC A – Malice (2:34.96); (2) Fringe A – Bonsai (2:35.08);(3) PiKA A – Chimera (2:41.12); (4) SDC B – Bane (2:42.03); (5) SigEp A – Mamba (2:50.90); (6) SDC C – Avarice (2:54.36)
Design Comp: (1) CIA – Ascension; (2) Fringe – Bonsai; (3) Fringe – Borealis
Other Awards: (People’s Choice) Spirit – Mapambazuko; (Chairman’s Choice) KapSig; (Spirit of Buggy) CIA; (T-Shirt) Fringe
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 46-61 Degrees on Friday; Rain, 50-54 on Saturday
Buggy Book: 2011 Buggy Book Link
Raceday Video Playlist: 2011 Race Playlist
Prediction Score: 23/55 Men’s, 36/45 Women’s (Compubookie)
- SDC Returns. In a bit of a controversial decision, following SDC’s Fire Safety Violation in 2010, Sweepstakes reinstated the team in full for 2011. The precedent for reinstatement had been set the year prior with Beta, and SDC’s argument was a little stronger as the DQ decision was of a more questionable nature. And the reinstatement enabled SDC to pick up right where they left off…duking it out at the top of the leaderboard.
- Introducing Robobuggy. In 2010, AEPi brother Nate Barshay decided to enter the Mobot competition and won. Having completed that in his first year at CMU, he set his sights on something bigger. He and brother Alex Klarfeld discovered that in the early 2000s, the CMU Robotics Club had briefly attempted to build a robotic buggy. The buggy itself still existed, so Nate and Alex decided to see if they could be the first to build an autonomous driving buggy. Rolling pre-dawn at rolls, the two collected data and tried to get the buggy set up to drive itself, using advanced technology (including, if I remember correctly, a modified Xbox Kinect). By the end of the semester, they had completed an autonomous roll during practices, and had planned to perform the first ever autonomous roll as the first exhibition on the Saturday of Raceday. Unfortunately, Saturday got rained out, and the roll never happened. But if you want to read about what they were doing, here is a link to their blogspot.
- KapSig Comes Back. In 2011, KapSig tried Buggy again. And to do it, they surprised everyone by producing their own buggy! The normal process is to borrow or purchase an older buggy, but KapSig went the more difficult route and it worked, making it to Raceday. Their silver buggy was named Apache. Unfortunately, this was a 1 year attempt, as KapSig dropped out of Buggy again for 2012.
- New Buggies. Robobuggy and Apache weren’t the only new buggies on the course in 2011. A couple of turning-point buggies made their debut. The leader of the pack came from Fringe, who managed to figure out the perfect combination of buggy features as they rolled out their new buggy, Bonsai. Meanwhile, CIA took the leap from “trying new things” to “building a legitimately good buggy” with their 3rd monocoque design, Ascension. SDC rolled out yet another fast buggy, Bane. SigEp tried something slightly different (which didn’t really work out) with their new buggy, Mamba. PiKA also debuted a new buggy, Raptor. And Spirit built a brand new buggy for the first time since building Seraph in 2004, rolling out Mapambazuko (Zuke).
- Mamba’s Secret. A fun fact about Mamba came out during the Raceday 2014 broadcast, courtesy of Anthony Pacella. Reportedly, if you were to turn over SigEp’s new buggy Mamba and look at the bottom, the bolts on the bottom spell out something about their Buggy Chair, Bryan Bleda.
- PhiKap Leaves. PhiKap was heavily ramping up in 2010, as they brought out 2 teams with plans to expand to 3 in the coming years. Unfortunately, that plan got put to a screeching halt. Some (according to Sam Swift) “ill-advised, college guy type antics” in the Spring was one straw too many for CMU, and the fraternity was suspended for the start of the 2010-2011 school year. We don’t have an official source on why the fraternity was kicked off campus, but at least one report involved chickens. The PhiKap departure continued a trend of the shrinking of the fraternity system at CMU, resulting in a number of longstanding Buggy teams being wiped out.
- The Last Pioneer. Pioneers was formed back in 1987, but by 2011 the organization had been dwindling. It barely had enough people to support a team, leading to Pioneers sharing support staff (such as follow cars and flaggers) with other teams. But they still had a driver, 5 pushers, and at least 1 mechanic, the bare minimum for a buggy team. Unfortunately, this would be the last time that they would have those people…and a buggy. At some point (either Truck Weekend or Raceday, it’s a little unclear), as their buggy Chaos crossed the finish line, the catchers (see a note on their importance below) grabbed the pushbar and cracked the mount. It may have been repaired, but 2011 would be Pioneers’ last year on campus.
- A Return To Wood. Back in the early days of Buggy, many buggies were made out of wood. That had mostly changed by World War II. But in 2011, wood made a comeback. AEPi’s Zephyrus had a pushbar failure on the first day of rolls in 2011, causing the metal pushbar that had been fished out of a dumpster to return to be thrown back in. AEPi decided to get more technologically advanced, and built a new pushbar out of composite materials. Unfortunately, they didn’t do a great job, and the new pushbar broke in half during capes. So the fraternity decided to go old-school. They went out and bought a 2×4 and attached it to the buggy. The 2×4 worked, and what was initially going to be a short-term solution ended up lasting much longer than planned (much like Zephyrus itself). Wood would make an even bigger comeback a little later.
- Predictions. Compubookie predicted a number of crashes on Raceday, thanks to the condition of the Chute. On the Women’s side, he predicted a close race at the top between PiKA, Fringe, and SDC, but called for SDC to once again win. His Top 6 were (1) SDC A, (2) Fringe A, (3) PiKA A, (4) SDC B, (5) SDC C, and (6) Fringe B. On the Men’s side, he again called for a tight top 3, but this time between SDC A, Fringe, and SDC B, predicting that SDC B would be the first B team to crack 2:07. His Top 10 were (1) SDC A, (2) Fringe A, (3) SDC B, (4) PiKA A, (5) SigEp A, (6) SDC C, (7) Spirit A, (8) Fringe B, (9) CIA A, and (10) PiKA B.
- Fall Crashes. The September 27, 2010 Tartan includes a Crime & Incident Report involving Buggy. On September 19, “a buggy crashed into a row of haybales in the Chute on the Buggy free-roll course. The driver was extracted from the buggy safely and evaluated by Carnegie Mellon EMS. The student was given an ice park and treated for minor injuries.” It must have been a slow week at the Tartan, as this doesn’t really seem like it was worthy of making the C&I. But based on the Rolls Report, our guess that this was a crash involving Fringe’s Blizzard, where the impact of hitting the outer haybales was hard enough to knock the front hatch off and cause some scratches to the new driver. Another hard one came on October 16, as per the Rolls Report, Fringe’s Borealis had something go wrong about halfway through the Chute turn, sending the buggy hard into the outer haybales, pushing 2 bales aside and hitting the curb (resulting in a cracked windshield). The driver was in some pain, but reportedly it was shoulder pain caused by the buggy harness doing its job and keeping her in place.
- Pothole Problems. The condition of the Chute, both entrance and exit, had begun to deteriorate by 2011, leading to a number of issues throughout the course of the year. On the first weekend of rolls in the fall, CIA’s Firebird hit a pothole at a critical part of its turn and ended up in the inner haybales. On October 9, SDC’s Addiction made it into the Chute cleanly, but as she was rolling up to Hill 3, she hit a pothole that sheared the wheel, including the stub, clean off the buggy (that pothole was filled in for the next morning’s rolls).
- Bicycles Beware. On October 10, CIA’s Firebird had a close call with a biker. Per the Rolls Report, the biker came on to the course from the Westinghouse Pond area and merged obliviously right in front of the buggy. The driver braked some, but when the bike rider heard something behind him he slowed down and got more in the way, causing the driver to end up against the curb as she came to a stop.
- Mini-Raceday Wrapup. SDC avenged their 2010 DQ with a 2011 Mini-Raceday title on the Men’s side, while the women of Fringe earned themselves the Mini-Raceday title on the women’s side.
- The Importance of Catchers. Catching the buggy is an underrated role on the course (usually handled by mechanics and team leaders), but it’s a necessary one. However, if you’re a new group you might not realize its importance. SigNu made it back out to the course for the first time of the school year in March, but with a team full of newcomers. On their first roll, the driver had an issue going the wrong way about the monument, but the scarier moment came at the finish line. The two mechanics set up to catch decided to leave and head back to their tent before the buggy arrived. The Hill 5 pusher came running full speed and gave the buggy a shove to cross the finish line, which sent the buggy careening towards the PiKA and CIA buggies waiting to roll. Thankfully, the Hill 5 pusher was able to catch up to the buggy and drag his feet along the ground to slow it down before the buggy made contact with the other teams.
- Push Practice Hiccup. Push Practice was set to start at the beginning of March, but things hit a snag. The City of Pittsburgh decided to take a closer look at their late night road closing permits, and they didn’t exactly like the idea of “semi-closed” roads, where students are the ones controlling the coming and going of cars. But after a two week holdup, the City finally agreed to grant the permits and push practices were back on. The compromise was that CMU police and insurance would vouch for the safety of push practice, and some new barricading and safety policies were put in place.
- Speed Bumps. The November 15, 2010 Tartan reported that a discussion around the Pittsburgh Regional Parks Master Plan for calming traffic in Schenley Park included the possible addition of speed bumps to the park, particularly around the intersection between Schenley Drive and Panther Hollow Bridge. The plan officially included an ornamental roundabout, but some individuals called for speed bumps instead. If speed bumps were installed, the buggy designed would need to be reconsidered from a safety perspective. Thankfully, the plan chose a different route.
- End of a Designasty. Fringe had won Design Competition every year since 1999, setting a record with 11 straight victories and deterring others from competing. The run became known as the Fringe Designasty. That Designasty fell in 2011, as CIA’s 3rd attempt at a monocoque buggy, Ascension, turned the tables and picked up the surprise Design Competition victory. But that win was only possible thanks to CIA sneaking into the Men’s Finals, finishing 10th and cracking the Top 10 for the first time since 2005.
- Bad Weather Sets In. The Class of 2010 never had to deal with weather on Raceday, as for 4 straight years, Sweepstakes was able to get 2 full days of racing in. Unfortunately, that streak ended in 2011 (and a whole different streak began). Rain rolled in on Saturday, causing the Finals to be cancelled and making Raceday a 1 day affair for the first time since 2006. And even though the rain didn’t fall on Friday, it wasn’t the most pleasant Raceday, as it was cold and windy.
- Notable Women’s Heats.
- Heat 2 – PiKA C’s Knightfall and Fringe B’s Borealis battled up the front hills in Lanes 2 and 3. PiKA had the lead on Hill 1 and a bad transition by Fringe let PiKA increase that lead, but Fringe’s buggy rolled faster and Borealis was able to pass Knightfall at the Stop Sign. PiKA caught back up on Hill 3, pulling even at the 3-4 transition, but Hill 4 is the Hill that separates the good from the great, and Fringe B was able to pull away on Hill 4.
- Heat 3 – Spirit’s woes continued, as Spirit A’s Haraka spun in the chute as the lead buggy, coming to rest towards the inner haybales. SDC didn’t get a brake flag in time and came into the Chute, where the driver had a major swerve, though it’s unclear based on her outside line if the swerve was to avoid hitting Spirit on the inside or to avoid hitting the outer haybales. CIA B’s Freyja also came through the Chute cleanly. We’re not sure why, but neither team rerolled.
- Heat 4 – SigEp B’s Peregrine didn’t make it out to the starting line in time, as the team didn’t put the buggy down until the countdown got to 3 seconds.
- Heat 5 – AEPi A’s Kamikaze didn’t have a chance to make the Finals, but even if they did, they wouldn’t have been able to because the Hill 5 pusher seemed to decide that she didn’t want to hold on to the pushbar. The pusher was right next to the buggy but just didn’t have her hand on the bar as the buggy crossed the finish line, resulting in a pushbar DQ.
- Heat 7 – The final Women’s heat was between SDC A’s Malice, PiKA B’s Zeus, and SigEp A’s Mamba. SigEp A appears to have twitched right at the start, and that twitch was enough for the starter to declare a false start. But the pushers didn’t realize that there was a false start, as the horn was barely audible. So all 3 teams pushed the entire race, before they were informed that they would need to rerun the entire heat. SDC A’s initial time was 5 seconds clear of the field, but in the reroll they didn’t perform nearly as well, making it the closest Women’s race in history, with just 0.11 seconds separating SDC A and Fringe A. But the time was still good enough, and SDC went home with the Women’s trophy.
- Men’s Notable Heats. The Men’s heats were the opposite of the Women’s, as they were full of carnage. In total, 11 of 29 teams were either DQ’d or earned a DNF.
- Heat 1 – CIA D broke out their suits to push Renaissance against Spirit B’s Seraph and SigEp D’s Pandora. Spirit’s Hill 3 pusher made things interesting with a leaping transition to make sure he got rid of the buggy before crossing the line.
- Heat 2 – A very tight battle ensued up the front hills between Fringe B’s Borealis in Lane 1, PiKA D’s Knightfall in Lane 2, and SigEp C’s Peregrine in Lane 3. Fringe went into the freeroll in front, followed by SigEp and then PiKA. But PiKA got a bigger shove than SigEp, and PiKA was able to pass SigEp as they crossed over at Westinghouse Pond. But something appears to have gone wrong with Knightfall as they hit the patch in the Chute, and SigEp carried more speed, allowing SigEp to pass back as they rolled up to Hill 3, squeezing in just barely inside of PiKA. The real sign of mechanical issues, however, came on Hill 5, as PiKA, now in 3rd, stopped on the Hill and did not finish the race. It turns out that one of Knightfall’s tires had completely fallen off the wheel somewhere earlier on the course (it was a little impressive that the buggy made it as far as it did), as the aluminum-on-pavement combination didn’t mix very well.
- Heat 3 – SDC C’s Avarice led the race into the freeroll, but it was tight between them, Spirit C’s Mapambazuko in Lane 2 and SAE A’s Rubicon in Lane 3. As SDC pulled away in the freeroll, the trouble was behind them. Spirit continued their unfortunate stretch of spins in the Chute, as they took a wide line and lost control, spinning out. This left SAE in a bind, as Spirit’s buggy came to rest perpendicular against the outer bales. SAE’s line took Rubicon towards the outer half of the Chute as well, and with the Spirit buggy laying there, SAE’s driver had no other choice than to angle into the outer bales, essentially taking a direct hit into the bales. The driver was OK, however, and SAE was granted a reroll, which was going well until they blew one of their pneumatic tires on Hill 5.
- Heat 4 – PiKA B’s Chimera, in Lane 1, and Spirit D’s Haraka, in Lane 3, were neck-and-neck up Hill 1, before PiKA pulled away on Hill 2. All the while, CIA B’s Firebird trailed. That all changed in the Chute. The PiKA driver seemed to wait a little too long to make her turn, resulting in a deep line that didn’t have much of a chance of making it through cleanly. The PiKA driver almost made the turn, with the buggy grazing the outer haybales and bouncing off of them, coming to rest in the middle of the Chute. Spirit, coming through next, was forced to react to PiKA’s buggy in the middle of the Chute, and therefore turned a little too far to the inside, spinning out and tapping the inner bales, causing the buggy to do a 180 and come to rest against the inner bales. But CIA never got a brake flag and kept coming. Somehow, Firebird – with pushbar down – threaded the needle perfectly, weaving between the Spirit and PiKA buggies and making it cleanly through the Chute. The pushbar then properly deployed, making it one of the better roles that Firebird had in its career. Both Spirit D and CIA B would be granted a reroll, which was far less eventful.
- Heat 5 – AEPi B’s Zephyrus suffered the fate that AEPi buggies often have, as the team couldn’t get the buggy to the starting line until the countdown got to 1, resulting in a 5 second DQ. In addition to that, Fringe C’s Hill 5 pusher gave one last shove way too late on the Hill and wasn’t able to catch up to Blizzard, resulting in a Pushbar DQ. That left SDC B’s Bane as the only buggy to clock an official time in the heat.
- Heat 7 – Spirit A’s Hill 2 pusher Ben Antoine made the crowd erupt, as he did his traditional somersault after the shove and then saluted his buggy Zulu Machafuko as it began its freeroll.
- Heat 8 – PiKA A’s Raptor was DQ’d for a questionable 5 second DQ, as the front carrier for PiKA’s buggy tried to get a little too cute and waited until the countdown got to “5” before he ran off (the other two ran off at “8”). PiKA Buggy Chair Keshav Raghavan told the Tartan that he understood the DQ, but suggested that in the future, there should be some discretion for Sweepstakes and that the intent shouldn’t be to DQ a team.
- Heat 9 – Heat 9 was the Heat of the Day, as it featured one of the best rolls in the history of Buggy, as well what the Tartan referred to as a “particularly bad crash”. The leading buggy in the heat was Fringe A’s Bonsai, and the freeroll is widely considered to be one of, if not THE, greatest freeroll of all time. Clockers on the course clocked Bonsai’s freeroll time at 49 seconds, the first time that a buggy had ever been clocked at a sub-50 second freeroll (the buggy also went sub-50 top the Stop Sign, another impressive feat, though that one was repeated by SDC A’s Malice in the next heat). Meanwhile, the crash came with the second buggy in the heat, SigNu A’s Bungarus Krait (though the Tartan erroneously called it a crash between SigNu and AEPi’s Kamikaze). Krait made an early Chute turn and made a hard impact with the inner haybales right at the entrance to the Chute. The impact spun the buggy around, causing it to gently roll across the Chute towards the outer haybales, where some SigNu alums grabbed the buggy to pull it out of the way of AEPi A’s Kamikaze, which was turning into the Chute. However, AEPi saw the spin and applied the brakes, coming to a stop and getting a reroll at the end of the day. The races were delayed for roughly 45 minutes, as the SigNu driver was checked by EMS and eventually transported to the hospital.
- Heat 10 – The final scheduled heat of the day was exciting both for the time and for the battle in the back. SDC A’s Malice had a time to beat of 2:05.08, and they too put up a sub-50 second Stop Sign time. The only question at the end was whether their time was faster than Fringe’s, but it ended up falling just short. Meanwhile, the battle for second in the heat was between CIA A’s Ascension and SigEp B’s Mamba. SigEp led up Hill 1, but CIA caught up on Hill 2 and took the lead in the freeroll. The CIA Hill 2 pusher was nearly tripped from behind by SigEp. SigEp ultimately had the better shove and Mamba was traveling faster, and SigEp passed CIA as they crossed the street opposite Westinghouse Pond. But all 3 times ended up in the Top 10 overall.
- The Exhibition Roundup – 2011. As noted above, rain on Saturday meant no Exhibitions. Sadly, it also meant no Robobuggy (you’d think that Robobuggy could still roll in the rain, but Sweepstakes didn’t even bother setting up for races because there was no chance that they could happen).
- 2011 Photos. Here are photos other than those in the BAA Gallery (and some select ones FROM the gallery):