PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, April 1 – Following last week’s mysterious and unlikely predictions actually coming true, Sweepstakes made the emergency decision to move Raceday 2020 up 2.5 weeks, and the races were completed this morning.
As you may recall, last Wednesday a man claiming to be a future version of CMU President Farnam Jahanian requested that, for the sake of humanity’s future, Raceday 2020 needed to be moved to the beginning of April. The Sweepstakes Committee, skeptical of this claim, demanded proof in the form of 3 upcoming events that would normally be unlikely to occur. But after all 3 incredibly unlikely predictions – that the Pittsburgh Penguins would lose a game, that the Pittsburgh Pirates would win a game, and that Harry Styles would shave his head – all came true over the weekend, Sweepstakes had no choice but to heed Future-Farnam’s warning and move Raceday.
cmuTV and WRCT were both on the scene for Raceday, providing audio and video coverage of the races. Unfortunately, a squirrel who had a run-in with Fringe’s Blind Faith earlier in the semester finally got his revenge, as he snuck into the production truck as soon as Raceday was about to begin and chewed through the wire that enabled the audio and video feeds to be broadcast over the internet. The damage also prevented cmuTV from recording the video for future broadcasts, leaving the general public with no audio or video footage of Raceday. Only those on the course were able to see the races. Luckily, this reporter stumbled out of bed at 3am for a leisurely stroll around Flagstaff Hill and managed to catch all of the races, to be able to bring this report to you! I was joined by intrepid Raceday photographer Men Batzke, who was able to capture a few photos from Raceday to share. Below is a recap of Raceday 2020.
Raceday 2020 Special Rules
Because of the emergency Raceday changes, a few new rules were put in place by Sweepstakes. Each team was only allowed to race their A team buggy, in order to speed up the races. The races were also mixed-gender, with each team deciding which 5 pushers they wanted to put on the Hills regardless of gender. At the Chairman’s meeting before Raceday, Robobuggy petitioned for the two autonomous teams, Robobuggy and Atlas, to be included in the actual races, rather than being limited to an Exhibition heat. After some snickering by the other chairmen, unanimous approval was given, meaning that 15 teams would be competing. Therefore, Sweepstakes decided that races would be run in randomly assigned heats of 2.
Heat 1 – Apex vs. Atlas
- Apex – Apex had put together a couple of solid push teams for Raceday. Those 10 pushers were widely considered the fastest on the course, and any combination of them was expected to put up a sub 2:10 time. But when Raceday was moved up, a last second addition was made to the roster. Old Man Hayes decided to re-enroll at CMU, yet again, in an attempt to finally win his own buggy trophy. Rather than simply putting their best 5 pushers on the A team, Apex held a rock-paper-scissors tournament to determine who would push for which team. Old Man Hayes, with his experience and wisdom, won the tournament. But thanks to some internal miscommunication, by winning the tournament Old Man Hayes ended up as the lone pusher on the A team, while the 10 fastest pushers ended up on the B and C teams. Apex submitted those rosters to Sweepstakes. When Sweepstakes limited each organization to just the A team, this left Old Man Hayes alone to Ironman the entire race. Unfortunately, age caught up to him, and he could only make it halfway up Hill 4 before he turned a bright shade of green and disappeared behind a bush. Reports from Future-Farnam suggest that “Van Winkle” Hayes was discovered there, sleeping, 20 years later, asking if he had won the race. Officially, Apex earned a DNF.
- Atlas – Atlas brought out Baby Buggy once again. Although the buggy was there, the Hill 1 pusher only got out to the starting line as the starter said “Ready”. So he quickly grabbed the baby buggy and started pushing up hill. The crowd started screaming and they were off. But it turns out the crowd wasn’t screaming because the race had started – they were screaming because the pusher had accidentally grabbed a real “baby buggy”, with the Atlas buggy, Baby Buggy, still sitting on the starting line. One spectator tried to push Baby Buggy up to Hill 2 to make a swap at the transition, but the Hill 1 pusher was too fast. The unwitting human driver turned out to be a decent driver for a baby, avoiding the crashes that Atlas’s own robotic buggy usually suffers, and finished the race in a 4:32.59.
Heat 2 – KKG/KS
- Kappa Kappa Sigma – Just one week before Raceday, the combined team of Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Sigma, known as “Kappa Kappa Sigma”, suffered a mild incident. Unfortunately, the loaner buggy Insite had a chip in its paint, and although the team had planned to fix the paint before Carnival, they hadn’t completed it before the early Raceday and the team didn’t want to race a buggy that wasn’t perfect. So Sweepstakes made the team a deal – they could race one of their older buggies, as long as the buggy had raced on at least 2 previous Racedays. KKG proposed using Ursula, which had raced from 2004-2006. But KapSig refused, wanting a buggy that had proven to be successful. So the two organizations were granted permission to race separately for Raceday 2020, each with their own buggy, and the fastest time would be applied to the organization. As a result, the two went head to head in their own heat. Kappa brought out Ursula, while KapSig reached back to their Golden Era and pulled out the 6-time champion from 1936-1941, which had been living in a secret room behind a bookcase in the basement of the KapSig house. KKG had the lead early on, but KapSig caught up on the back hills. Ironically, the two buggies finished in a dead heat, with a final time of 2:43.55.
Heat 3 – CIA vs. PiKA
- CIA – CIA decided to take their recent wheel ideas to a new level. Seeing their recent success with larger diameter wheels, CIA made a call to Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and obtained some even larger wheels. The wheels arrived just in time for Raceday, and CIA equipped Emperor with the new wheels. The wheels allowed CIA’s driver to make a perfect Chute turn and they held so much speed through the Chute that the back hills didn’t even pick up the buggy until it was halfway through Hill 4! But the buggy was so hard to push that the final time for the team ended up being 2:55.42.
- PiKA – PiKA also decided to change up their wheels for Raceday 2020. But whereas CIA had success with big wheels, PiKA’s success came from small wheels and they wanted to stick with the smaller variety. So they contacted a Hot Wheels factory and received a shipment of toy car wheels to put onto Banshee. The new wheels allowed for very easy pushing of the buggy, but the miniscule wheels left very little ground clearance and the plastic wheels didn’t provide the driver with any grip. As the driver started to turn into the Chute, she hit a small bump on the road and was unable to make the Chute turn. As the driver attempted a last second maneuver to save the heat, the maneuver put so much force on the tiny wheels that both rear wheels sheared clean off of the buggy, leaving PiKA as a DNF. The SigNu alumni in the Chute immediately sprung into action to collect whatever wheel details they could get. But the wheels were so small that the older alumni couldn’t see where the two wheels landed. Eventually a small gust of wind blew the two wheels off of the course.
Heat 4 – Spirit vs. SAE
- Spirit – Spirit came into Raceday overly cocky, with a lot of snickering heard from outside their truck. They brought out a newly painted buggy, which they had named “Inviserapinzuko”. The team was making incredible time on the course. The first sign that something might be amiss came at the 1:25 mark in the Heat. Spirit was incredibly already making the Hill 4-5 transition with their buggy when a Radio Club member radioed “Chute 1 Clear”. The assumption on the course was that the W3VC Radio Club member in the Chute had initially forgotten to alert Sweepstakes that the Spirit buggy had cleared the Chute and was making it up. But more clarity came once Spirit crossed the Finish Line in a course record 1:45.22. The team’s group of 4 freshmen mechanics, in the interest of driver safety, each brought their buggy to the Drops line. It turns out that Spirit had repainted all 4 of their buggies (Inviscid, Seraph, Kingpin, and Mapambazuko) identically, and had strategically stationed each buggy at various points on the course outside of the view of cmuTV cameras in order to reach different parts of the course faster. Unfortunately, the freshmen mechanics didn’t realize that the “relay race” portion of the races referred to the pushers, not the buggies, and when they brought all 4 buggies to Drops, the scheme was discovered. Spirit was DQ’d for a Roster violation.
- SAE – SAE decided that building new buggies wasn’t the key to success. So instead, they brought back Rubicon. But hoping to increase involvement in the fraternity’s buggy program, SAE decided to make another change to the structure of Rubicon. In 2012, they switched from a standard trike to a reverse trike. For Raceday 2020, SAE threw out the trike idea entirely, and converted the buggy to a 4-wheeler. With a more stable ride, SAE was able to finish the race in a time of 2:34.67.
Heat 5 – Robobuggy vs. DG
- Robobuggy – Everyone thought it was odd that Robobuggy petitioned to be eligible to enter the competition on Raceday, but when the team showed up in the morning, other teams suddenly realized that they had been had. Robobuggy had secretly recruited a top tier push team by reaching out to the Pittsburgh Steelers and getting the team to enroll in online courses at CMU. With a push team made up of 5 Activities Fee-paying Steelers, a buggy programmed to take the ideal path through the course, and the lightest buggy in history (thanks to the lack of a driver), no other team stood a chance. Inside Linebacker Devin Bush made it up Hill 1 in 14 seconds, and Outside Linebacker T.J. Watt gave Robobuggy one of the biggest Hill 2 shoves of all time. Running Back James Connor took over on Hill 3, and he only needed 2 shoves before transitioning the buggy to Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster on Hill 4. The team reached the Hill 4-5 transition at 1:42, where retired Safety Troy Polamalu took the buggy to the Finish Line. He gave the buggy a bit too hard of a shove and made a classic leap to grab the pushbar just as the buggy crossed the finish line. The time on the clock: 2:00.06.
- DG – Delta Gamma wasn’t initially expected to be all that competitive. But the team stumbled across a brand new wheel provider named “Rootx”, who offered a bright pink monourethane compound that was said to be the fastest compound of all time. They obtained a few of those wheels for Brazen, a buggy known for starting a wheel trend. Being paired with Robobuggy gave DG the added target that they needed, and the women of Delta Gamma stopped the clock in a 2:18.40, the fastest time ever for an all-Women’s team. DG also became the first organization to ever finish in the Top 3 and earn a trophy in their first year.
Heat 6 – Fringe vs. SigNu
- Fringe – Fringe debuted their newest buggy, Beaufort. Named for the hurricane intensity scale, Fringe painted a map of the eastern United States on their buggy. Every day of rolls, they would track a “hurricane” as it approached Pittsburgh. Finally, on Raceday, the hurricane “hit” Pittsburgh. This was meant to be a joke. But when they showed up on the course for Raceday, a single rain cloud followed Beaufort around the course, and the wind produced by Fringe’s buggy in the freeroll gusted up to 100mph. Fringe put together a solid time, finishing 2nd with a 2:14.82. The same can’t be said for SigNu.
- SigNu – SigNu brought out Bungarus Krait, and they were close behind Fringe early. But as noted above, the hurricane-force winds produced by Fringe significantly slowed down the trailing SigNu buggy in the freeroll. As the buggy turned into the Chute, a massive gust of wind caught SigNu, and thanks to the weight distribution of the buggy, Bungarus Krait went airborne. Spectators said that SigNu’s Chute turn could best be described as a “frontside 1080 double cork”. The driver stuck the landing and was able to finish the race. The time was a pedestrian 2:47.18, but the judges awarded the roll a score of 92.40 for the trick, which was enough to give SigNu the Chairman’s Choice award.
Heat 7 – SigEp vs. AEPi
- SigEp – SigEp has been consistent for a number of years, but they’ve often been overlooked by the Buggy community. To try and finally attract attention, SigEp prepared a spectacle never-before-seen on the Buggy course. SigEp’s chair went into the WRCT booth and announced that a ramp had been set up in front of the Monument. A flaming hoop was attached to the top of the Bigelow statue, and Barracuda would attempt to jump through the flaming hoop. Barracuda was well in the lead as they reached the Stop Sign, but just as Barracuda approached the ramp, a cute dog on the course decided to stand on its back legs! This caught the attention of everyone, including the broadcasters, cmuTV, and our photographer, so no one actually saw Barracuda’s stunt attempt. We’ll never know if it was successful. Unfortunately for SigEp, the flames on the hoop reportedly overheated the pushbar, forcing the Hill 3 pusher to wait until the buggy cooled down before he could start pushing. They finished in 3:12.18.
- AEPi – AEPi decided to bridge the old and the new, as they renamed and repainted Kamikaze. The new buggy, Kamicamo, was painted in a true camouflage manner, owing to the look of their old buggy Camo. Unfortunately, the new paintjob made it nearly impossible to push, as the buggy just appeared as a floating pushbar. The buggy finally crossed the finish line, we think, in a 3:18.36.
Heat 8 – SDC vs. PhiDelt
- SDC – Even though it was a random drawing, somehow SDC managed to find themselves in the final heat of the day. Unfortunately for them, this backfired. The buggy community had gotten tired of SDC always winning. While everyone else was distracted by the cute dog during Heat 7, an unknown person snuck into the SDC truck and attached a boot to one of Bane’s wheels. A tow truck was called to take Bane away and bring a replacement buggy, but SDC was told it would take 2 hours. So they were forced to soldier on with Bane. Unsurprisingly, the front right wheel had trouble rolling, and SDC put up their slowest time in a over a decade, clocking in at 2:33.94.
- PhiDelt – PhiDelt brought back Argo, or so we think. The push team was clad in Prada track suits, Richard Mille watches, and Air Jordan 12 OVO sneakers. The house seemed to be flaunting a recent influx of cash, and it wasn’t clear why until they brought out Argo. Unfortunately for them, it may have made more sense to spend that money on an actual buggy, as all the bling in the world could only get PhiDelt a 2:38.74.
- Robobuggy – 2:00.06
- Fringe – 2:14.82
- DG – 2:18.40
- SDC – 2:33.94
- SAE – 2:34.67
- PhiDelt – 2:38.74
- KKS – 2:43.55
- SigNu – 2:47.18 (plus a judge’s score of 92.40)
- CIA – 2:55.42
- SigEp – 3:12.18
- AEPi – 3:18.36
- Atlas – 4:32.59
- PiKA – DNF (due to wheel failure)
- Apex – DNF (due to exhaustion)
- Spirit – 1:45.22 – DQ (Roster)
These are trying times, but we hope that we were able to provide a bit of levity to your day.