100 Years of Buggy History – 2015

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Reminder: Along with these 2010s posts, we’re also doing a Raceday Rewatch, so you can join us at this link on Friday at 5pm ET (or rewatch it on your own later): 2015 Rewatch

This week, the 100 Years of Buggy History series takes a look at 2015. Paved roads helped a bit, but a lack of practice rolls plus a deteriorating Frew Street and a rebuilding year led to a shock on the Women’s side and the closest (and slowest) race on the Men’s side in roughly 40 years. Meanwhile, more bad accidents led to an increased focus on buggy safety, while wheel experimentation reached it proverbial peak.

2015

Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 17 at 8:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 18 at 8:00am

Sweepstakes Committee: Elon Bauer (Chair); Haley Dalzell (Ass. Chair); John Dieser (Safety); Annsley Lucas (Design)

Men’s Results: (1) SDC A – Malice (2:12.36); (2) SigEp A – Kraken (2:12.71); (3) CIA A – Ascension (2:12.95); (4) Fringe A – Bissa (2:14.17); (5) SDC B – Rage (2:19.46); (6) Apex A – Ember (2:20.40)

Women’s Results: (1) CIA A – Equinox (2:35.64); (2) Fringe A – Bissa (2:39.99);(3) SDC A – Malice (2:46.58); (4) PiKA A – Banshee (2:47.87); (5) Spirit B – Seraph (2:53.21); (6) CIA B – Ascension (2:54.53)

Design Comp: (1) CIA – Equinox; (2) Spirit – Inviscid; (3) Fringe – Balius

Other Awards: (People’s Choice) Spirit – Inviscid; (Chairman’s Choice) SigEp; (Spirit of Buggy) PhiDelt; (T-Shirt) SAE

Weather: Rain Early, then cloudy, 57-62 Degrees on Friday; Sunny, 49-72 Degrees on Saturday

Raceday Video Playlist: 2015 Full Day 1; Full Day 2

Prediction Score: 27/55 Men’s, 14/45 Women’s (Compubookie); 21/55 Men’s, 22/52 Women’s (Ben Matzke)

  • Another Major Crash.  The 2014 calendar year was a bad year for buggy crashes.  As we noted last week, a major incident with Fringe’s Banyan on Raceday put a damper on the otherwise enjoyable festivities.  The practice session on October 26, 2014 similarly cast a long shadow over Buggy.  Spirit’s Kingpin began with a normal roll.  As the buggy passed the transition flag, however, the driver was a touch too close to the curb.  The back left wheel of Kingpin got caught in the lone haybale placed after the transition flag to prevent buggies from hitting a storm drain.  The result of the wheel getting stuck was that the buggy spun, flying nose-first towards the curb.  The force pushed the buggy over the curb and the buggy went nose first into the concrete stairs and railing that sit between the two flagging areas.  According to the Spirit chair, as the buggy hit the railing, the windshield cracked and popped off.  The driver was in shock and attempted to unload herself from the buggy before EMS could arrive.  The good news was that unlike the Fringe crash on Raceday, the driver’s safety mechanisms remained intact.  The protective cage took a significant portion of the damage, and the harness kept the driver in place.  The driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, but the doctors noted that the injuries were far less serious than is typical for the situation, and she was reportedly doing well and in high spirits the next day.  The following week, a small orange cone appeared a few feet in front of the storm drain, and a second haybale was added to the first.
2015 – Spirit’s Kingpin had a bad crash during practice rolls on October 26, 2014, as the back left wheel got caught in a haybale and the buggy was spun into concrete stairs and railing, sending the driver to the hospital (from the BAA Gallery; uploaded by Ben Matzke)
2015 – The following week, a small cone was added to alert drivers to the presence of the haybale, and a second haybale was added (from the BAA Gallery; uploaded by Ben Matzke)
  • Pusher Dangers.  Most of the time, when we talk about safety on the course, we’re referring to driver safety.  Occasionally, in the build process or in the truck, we’re referring to the safety of the mechanics.  It’s not very often that pusher safety is touched upon.  But one pusher gave the Buggy community quite a scare on October 11, 2014.  A pusher on the back hills for Robobuggy gave his buggy quite the push.  After he was done, he began to feel dizzy, so he sat on a ledge near the CIA and PiKA tents.  But he got worse and proceeded to pass out, falling backwards and landing head first on the sidewalk.  An ambulance was called and the pusher was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with minor spinal fractures.  Fortunately, the pusher was released from the hospital the next day and returned to campus in high spirits, sporting a new neck brace.
  • Crash Testing.  With multiple significant crashes coming in one calendar year where buggies hit unprotected immovable objects, it should come as no surprise that safety was on the forefront of the Buggy community’s mind.  Rachael Schmitt, former driver for Apex, build lead for CIA’s Icarus, and current BAA Secretary decided to do something about it.  She applied for, and obtained, a Student University Research Grant (SURG) for her senior capstone project entitled “Buggy Crash Testing”.  The study attempted to provide some data around crash testing, something that had never been done before.  She obtained two former buggies, Pioneers/DTD’s Quicksilver/Bethany (which last rolled in 2010) and SigEp’s 2012 build Bacon, which never rolled as a result of being too small to fit a driver.  To determine the most critical testing to be done, Rachael looked at 6 semesters worth of incident reports (incidents being where a buggy made contact with another object and EMS responded).  She found a remarkably low incident rate at just 1.0% over the 3 year period, and she determined that the most critical test would be a full speed crash into the curb in the Chute. She performed three total tests – Bacon (with sandbags) into a haybale, Bethany (with a crash test dummy) into the curb, and Bacon (with sandbags) into the curb, all at 30-32 mph.  The results are dramatic and well worth the watch.  Unfortunately, due to a failure in the onboard electronics, the accelerometer and other data logging systems were unable to collect data.  But enough information could be seen from the carnage to produce results.  The haybales made a significant difference, leaving minimal damage to the sandbags and no visible damage to the buggy.  A direct hit on the curb, however, was devastating.  Each buggy’s nose became 4-5 inches shorter, with the “driver” in Bethany flying through the front hatch, destroying it while it technically remained attached to the buggy.  That occurred as a result of the harness failing at all three attachment points, similar to the result of Banyan’s crash in 2014.  In the case of Bethany, the harness was merely epoxied to the shell of the buggy, an attachment mechanism that could not nearly support the forces imposed on the buggy.  The report recommended that Sweepstakes implement a rule requiring all harness attachment points be bolted through at least one layer of the buggy’s shell, and that a significant emphasis be placed on the method of harness attachment to the buggy shell.  You can read the full report here. From both driving and completing this report, it became clear to Rachael that harness attachment points were one of the most critical elements of safety, and one that is frequently overlooked (or beyond the knowledge) by some of the mechanics and safety chairs – so it would be helpful to get the insights of professionals, or buggy alumni who have experience in this area.
Rachael Schmitt put together this video of her various crash test attempts as part of her SURG capstone project in 2015 (courtesy of Rachael Schmitt).
  • Two Full Days of Racing.  It had been an entire generation of CMU students (4 years) since Sweepstakes had been able to put on a full 2-day Raceday (the last time was 2010).  As Carnival 2015 approached, it seemed that the streak of rain would continue.  As Fringe chair Preetam Amancharla told the April 20, 2015 Tartan, there was a strong fear that both days would be rained out.  Luckily, the rain that fell on Friday came early enough overnight that Sweepstakes was able to let the course dry.  Assisted by cars and leaf blowers, Sweepstakes initially delayed the races for 1 hour, from 8am to 9am, to try and get the course dry. A visual inspection of the course as the Women’s heats began does leave a bit of a question as to whether they waited long enough.  But everyone on the course could feel the possibility of 2 days of racing, so races got underway on Friday with some moderately saturated roads, as they continued to dry throughout the day.  Saturday brought a Pittsburgh miracle – a warm, sunny day – allowing for a great Finals to take place.
2015 – Overnight rains led to a delay on Friday morning while the roads dried, so to help out, leaf blowers were used in the Chute (courtesy of Bryan Arsham)
Gotta dryve the course! (from the BAA Gallery; uploaded by Guillermo Gomez)
  • A Whole New Speed…Slow.   On the Men’s side of the races, 2014 marked the first time in at least 50 years that the gap between first and second place was greater than 10 seconds, as SDC crushed the competition.  But 2015 was a rebuilding year for the buggy powerhouse.  The result of this was an oddity in Buggy history, as the race for the Men’s trophy became particularly close…but also particularly slow.  While SDC rebuilt, the other teams weren’t able to put together a top tier time.  This left 2015 as an outlier, as the winning time of 2:12.35 was the slowest winning time since 1980, the last year that a male driver won the race.
  • Neck-and-Neck at the Top.  But just because the race was slow, doesn’t mean that it was exciting.  In fact, the 2015 Men’s races were one of the most exciting in history.  The top 3 teams were all separate by just 0.6 seconds, the closest race that we have on record.
  • A Successful Faceplant. But in the end, SDC kept their streak alive, earning their 4th consecutive Men’s victory.  Coming out of Men’s Finals Heat 3 after surprising the crowd by not having the fastest time on Day 1, SDC improved their time a bit from the previous day.  But it all almost went for naught.  Hill 5 pusher Jordan “The Flash” Kunz never gave the buggy a full shove on Hill 5, but he did give some small bumps to allow himself to run fast behind it.  But this nearly led to disaster.  As the buggy approached the finish line, it wasn’t slowing down, and Jordan, running at full speed, didn’t seem to be getting close enough to reach out and touch the buggy.  As the buggy reached the finish line, Jordan did what he had to do and leaped to grab the pushbar.  In a move that would save the Raceday for SDC, Jordan did the unthinkable and actually managed to get his hand on the pushbar a split second before the nose of the buggy crossed the line.  He left plenty of himself on the course, landing knee first on the pavement.  But it was all worth it to taste victory once again.
2015 – SDC Men’s A Hill 5 pusher Jordan Kunz laid out at the Finish Line to grab the pushbar and surprisingly succeeded, lifting Malice both off of the ground and to the top of the leaderboard (from the 04-20-2015 Tartan).
  • CIA Comes Through.  On the Women’s side, SDC’s rebuilding year didn’t fair quite as well.  And that’s because some other teams stepped up.  2015 was a bit of a throwback to the early days of Women’s racing.  CIA, who won 4 of the first 7 Women’s races in Buggy history but hadn’t won a race since 1985, found a winning combination with a mix of upper-class and freshman pushers, plus a brand new buggy in Equinox. But it wasn’t just the win that made CIA’s Raceday particularly exciting.  Driver Allison Lim in Ascension, the Men’s A team buggy and Women’s B team buggy, had quite a Finals day in the Chute.  In Women’s Finals Heat 2, going up against the reigning champion in SDC A’s Malice, CIA B’s Ascension went into the freeroll second, but found itself gaining in the freeroll.  As they turned into the Chute, Malice was still ahead, but Ascension was quickly gaining and Allison decided to take a tight line to try and pass on the inside.  SDC, who had taken a slightly wider line, slightly oversteered in the standard trike buggy and nearly spun out, appearing to cut off the inside path for Ascension. But the SDC driver saved her turn and Allison made a great move to avoid both Malice and the inner haybales, completing the exciting pass and leading to dropped jaws in the Chute.  Almost as if to prove it wasn’t a fluke, Allison attempted a similar move for CIA Men’s A in Men’s Finals Heat 5 against Spirit A’s Inviscid.  In a bit of a surprise, Spirit actually won the race up the front hills and into the freeroll, forcing CIA to come from behind.  But once again, Ascension had more speed in the freeroll and was gaining on Spirit.  After an attempt to pass at the Stop Sign failed, Allison tucked in behind Invsicid and prepared to pass in the Chute.  Taking another tight line, the two buggies nearly collided as they turned into the Chute, with less than the width of a buggy between the two of them.  But Allison proved that she was a tremendous driver, making her second straight clean Chute pass to the amazement of the crowd.
2015 – Driver Allison Lim, in CIA Men’s A’s Ascension (right), successfully makes a daring pass on the inside of Spirit Men’s A’s Inviscid in the Chute, her second such pass of the day (from the BAA Gallery; uploaded by Ben Matzke)
2015 – CIA Women’s B’s Ascension makes a wild pass of SDC Women’s A’s Malice in the Chute (courtesy of Bryan Arsham)
  • PhiDelt adds to the Fraternity Roster.  Over the past 10 years, the number of fraternities participating in buggy had changed a number of times.  Unfortunately, the number almost always went down, rather than up.  That changed in 2015. Phi Delta Theta (PhiDelt) was installed on CMU’s campus in the Fall of 2013, and quickly became one of the larger fraternities on campus.  So after a year of getting adjusted, the fraternity decided that they wanted to give Buggy a shot.  They reached out to some alumni from KDR, who were able to offer their buggy, Perun, to PhiDelt as a loaner to get started.  Perun had previously been lent to DeltaForce (DTD/TriDelt) in 2012 with the stipulation that it not be repainted.  However, that stipulation was not attached to PhiDelt’s loan.  Perun came out on Raceday 2015 sporting a new paintjob, reflecting PhiDelt’s blue and white color scheme.
  • HOW Many Wheels? In 2014, Aubrey Higginson and Mike Velez from Fringe decided to experiment in wheel alignment.  After Bolt rolled in 2014 with 2 wheels on the back, they decided to take things one step further.  In the spring of 2015, a new buggy named X1 made its way to the course.  The buggy was immediately nicknamed “Millibuggy” due to its very unique feature – it was a reverse trike with 3 sets of 3 wheels each, leading to a total of 9 wheels.  The thought was that with the new inline skate wheels that Fringe was reduced to using, more wheels on the road would put less weight on each and therefore less rolling resistance, allowing for the groups of wheels to perform better than single wheels of the same type.  There was an added benefit connected to the road conditions, because with so many wheels on the ground, the small cracks, divots, and potholes on the course, wouldn’t affect the buggy as much, since it would always have enough wheels on the ground for a smooth ride.  That turned out to be true, as a former driver called X1 “the smoothest roll I’ve ever had”, and pushers reportedly found pushing X1 to be a breeze.  It successfully rolled in practice and many spectators assumed this was a fun diversion that wouldn’t actually race (like CIA’s B1R from 2013).  However, Fringe had other plans, and actually qualified X1 to race as their Men’s and Women’s C teams.  Unfortunately, the buggy could never improve upon that position, as the 9 wheels created a serious flaw.  The buggy handled straightaways very well, but had significant trouble turning, a critical component of any successful buggy.  There’s also a bit of a question as to whether having 9 wheels required having more brakes, as X1 was DQ’d as the Men’s C team buggy for failing drops.
One of these photos of X1 is very real…
…and one isn’t. Can you tell which? (Real photo from the BAA Gallery; uploaded by Ben Matzke)
  • New Buggies of 2015.  X1 wasn’t the only new buggy in the year – in fact, it wasn’t even the only new Fringe buggy.  Fringe also debuted a more traditional buggy, Balius.  CIA found that they liked the Icarus shell design and made some small improvements to introduce their new buggy, Equinox.  Lastly, Spirit built a brand new buggy for the 2nd year in a row, introducing the slightly larger (so that more drivers could fit) Inviscid to the course. 
  • Compubookie’s New Competition.  As noted last week, after the backlash in 2014, Compubookie switched to a new publishing method – the cmubuggy website.  His predictions went up the Tuesday of Carnival week in a slightly new format, splitting up “the good”, “the bad”, and “the boring”.  Under “the good” were CIA for their recent improvements, PiKA for their consistency, PhiDelt for joining the Buggy roster, and Robobuggy for doing something that no one had done before.  “The bad” were SDC for their spins throughout the semester, Fringe for their wheel experiments, SAE for Lucy’s camber (noted last week), and SigNu for a lack of effort.   As for “the boring”, the list included AEPi, Apex, SigEp, and Spirit.  His predictions on the Men’s side were: (1) SDC A, (2) SigEp A, (3) PiKA A, (4) SigEp B, (5) Fringe A, (6) CIA A, (7) Spirit A, (8) Apex A, (9) SAE A, and (10) PiKA B.  On the Women’s side, he went with (1) SDC A, (2) PiKA A, (3) CIA A, (4) SigEp A, (5) Fringe A, and (6) SDC B.  But this year, Compubookie wasn’t alone.  In the comments, a new prediction bot, Mechajockey, made its debut.  But Mechajockey was less concerned about the actual order of finish.  Instead, it predicted some things it expected to see on Raceday.  Those were: (1) Fringe buggy, sans pusher; (2) Spirit buggy, backwards; (3) Six Fringe wheels, sans buggy; (4) Two haybales; (5) the Follow Truck; (6) the Lead Truck; (7) a crowd of children pushing a CIA buggy; (8) KDR B; (9) the missing PhiKap buggy from 2010; and (10) Mark Estes on a scooter. Ben Matzke also made his predictions in the Raceday Preview. He predicted an SDC sweep, with a Top 10 Men’s of (1) SDC A, (2) PiKA A, (3) SigEp A, (4) CIA A, (5) Spirit A, (6) SigEp B, (7) Apex A, (8) Fringe A, (9) PiKA B, and (10) CIA B. On the Women’s side, his Top 8 was (1) SDC A, (2) CIA A, (3) Fringe A, (4) PiKA A, (5) SigEp A, (6) Spirit A, (7) SDC B, and (8) SigEp B.
  • Missing Haybales.  The downside of using haybales to line the Chute is that it’s hard to keep track of those haybales throughout the year.  The March 23, 2015 Tartan reported that on March 19, 41 haybales from the Buggy stockpile were reported stolen.  It’s unknown when the haybales were stolen, but the missing ones would ultimately need to be replaced.
  • Some New Pavement…  After the slalom course around the Monument in 2014, the City of Pittsburgh got the message.  Over the summer, the City repaved the portion of Schenley Drive from the Stop Sign down to the Chute, giving a smooth roadway as buggies turned into the Chute.  Of course, the Chute itself continued to deteriorate, meaning that once the buggies entered the Chute they had to deal with a brand new set of challenges.
  • …And Some New Lanes.  Unfortunately, the new pavement on Schenley Drive didn’t come without its own obstacles.  Now that the road was repaved, the City of Pittsburgh went through and repainted the lane lines.  In addition, they decided to add a bike lane to the road. But this added two new problems for Buggy teams.  First, the new lane lines were thicker and certain other paint was textured, creating a real problem for drivers if they tried to ride on the lines as they used to.  Second, to separate the Bike Lane from the portion of the road used by cars, the City added posts to prevent any crossover between cars and bikes.  Initially, the posts were expected to be permanent, creating a massive hurdle for Buggy teams.  However, Sweepstakes was able to convince the City to instead use temporary posts that could be unscrewed, at an additional cost that was borne by Sweepstakes.  The holes themselves were small and could be plugged by plastic caps, preventing them from affecting the buggies in any significant way, but it did create a new chore for teams to perform before rolls could begin.
A bike lane, new paint, and posts caused a shift in both morning chores and driver lines in the freeroll (uploaded by Ben Matzke).
  • Are Barricades Invisible?  Once again, we have an odd barricade report.  On October 26, a car plowed through one of the outer barricades at the bridge in the Chute.  The car knocked over the barricade before police stopped the driver.  The real question – how do drivers keep running into these barricades?  Are they invisible?
2015 – Barricades? We don’t need no stinking barricades? (From the BAA Gallery; uploaded by Ben Matzke)
  • Chute Spins – They’re Not Just For Buggies Anymore.  October 11, 2014 marked the start of Ceilidh weekend at CMU.  As part of the celebration, Formula SAE brought out a couple of their vehicles to run the buggy course.  Their newest build, an electric car, sped through the course in just 55 seconds.  Their combustion engine car, however, didn’t fare as well.  The car quickly sped up the front hills, but it took a mysteriously long time before it showed up on the back hills.  It turns out, the Formula SAE vehicle took the Chute turn a little too quickly and spun out.
  • MiniRaceday Results.  Mini-Raceday was handled a little differently for the 2014-2015 school year.  Instead of timing a single buggy from each team from a fixed point to the finish line, times were calculated for front hills, freeroll, and back hills.  The fastest freeroll + back hills time (the traditional Mini-Raceday demarcation) went to CIA’s Icarus, which was 1 second ahead of Spirit’s Seraph (it was another second back to CIA’s Ascension and Fringe’s Bissa).  When it came to the full course (including front hills), Fringe’s Bissa and Spirit’s Seraph tied for the win (CIA did not do full Hill 1s).
  • Notable Women’s Heats.  Below are some of the notable Women’s heats in 2015 (we will turn these into links as soon as the individual heats are broken out separately from the full day videos and uploaded to YouTube):
    • Women’s Prelims Heat 1 – SDC C’s Bane was paired against CIA C’s Impulse on some pretty wet roads for the first race of the day (Fringe D’s Beacon never made it to the starting line).  Bane had some excitement as the buggy turned into the Chute.  The buggy nearly spun out, but the first-year driver did a great job to save the turn and complete the race.  Commentators Andy Bordick and Connor Hayes repeatedly complimented the driver for her driving skills, both throughout this heat as well as later in the day.  Little did they know that this particular unknown-at-the-time first-year driver, Annie Black, would eventually go on to become the winningest driver of all time and the current course record holder.
    • Women’s Prelims Heat 2 – It was a tough year for Spirit, and the signs began in Women’s Prelims Heat 2.  Spirit A’s Inviscid went up against Fringe B’s Balius and PhiDelt A’s Perun.  Spirit led in the freeroll, but the driver of Inviscid couldn’t quite make the Chute turn and spun out.  Fringe came through second and was forced to swerve to avoid hitting the spun-out Spirit buggy, then had to swerve a second time to avoid people coming down to attend to Spirit.  These swerves caused Balius to hit two massive potholes (per Will Weiner on the broadcast, “a pothold combo”) on its way up to Hill 3.
    • Women’s Prelims Heat 3 – The biggest sign yet of the wet roads appeared in Heat 3.  SigEp A never made it to the starting line (but to be nice to the team, they were allowed to run an exhibition on Saturday as part of a reroll heat), leaving just Apex B’s Phoenix and CIA B’s Ascension.  CIA made it up the front hills first, but as the Hill 2 pusher began running in the transition zone to pick up the buggy, the pusher slipped on the roads.  But they were able to complete the course and advance to the finals.
    • Women’s Prelims Heat 4 – PiKA A’s Banshee, coming out of Lane 2, was easily in front up the front hills, but lost a tiny bit of speed at the start of the freeroll.  The buggy hit a massive pothole at the start of the freeroll, causing the front of the buggy to catch significant air before landing.  Meanwhile, SDC B’s Rage wasn’t quite as fortunate as the C team’s Bane.  The buggy, second into the freeroll, ended up spinning out in the Chute, though it wasn’t on camera.
    • Women’s Prelims Heat 7 – The first sign that SDC’s Women’s winning streak might come to an end came on Hill 2.  SDC A’s Malice, going up against Apex A’s Ember and AEPi A’s Kamikaze, actually trailed Apex on Hill 1 before narrowly taking the lead going into the freeroll.  Unfortunately, the Hill 2 pusher completely missed the shove, limiting Malice’s speed in the freeroll.  The good news was that she made it through the course cleanly and advanced to the Finals.
    • Women’s Finals Heat 2.  The second sign that SDC’s Women’s winning streak might come to an end came in Finals Heat 2.  SDC A’s Malice went up against CIA B’s Ascension, and SDC led going into the freeroll.  However, as noted above, Ascension surprisingly had more speed.  CIA continued to gain on SDC in the freeroll and passed on the inside as the buggies turned into the Chute, then had a strong rollout before SDC finally passed back on Hill 4.
    •  Women’s Finals Heat 3 – PiKA A’s Banshee and Apex B’s Phoenix got surprisingly close on the back hills.  Apex came closing very quickly on Hill 5 and got to within 1 buggy length of PiKA as they reached the finish line.  Unfortunately, Phoenix was traveling a little faster than the pusher on Hill 5.  She made a dive for the pushbar at the finish line, but got to it a touch too late, resulting in a Pushbar DQ.
    • Women’s Finals Heat 4 – Notable mainly because it’s the heat that earned CIA, with its new buggy Equinox, their first win since 1985.
  • Notable Men’s Heats.  A number of Men’s Heats had notable moments (we will turn these into links as soon as the individual heats are broken out separately from the full day videos and uploaded to YouTube):
    • Men’s Prelims Heat 1.  SigNu A’s Bungarus Krait gave everyone a bit of a scare when going up against Fringe D’s Balius and AEPi A’s Kamikaze.  The buggy took an odd Chute line, making a very early turn but somehow still making it through the Chute.  Meanwhile, in the back AEPi and Fringe went into the freeroll together, and the two buggies collided just as they started their freeroll.  Based on the spacing difference, it’s likely that Fringe braked after that.  It appears that neither team was deemed to be at fault, though AEPi was DQ’d for a spot safety violation, their third consecutive year with a spot safety DQ.
    • Men’s Prelims Heat 3 – CIA A’s Ascension went up against PiKA B’s Raptor.  CIA A easily won the heat, but PiKA stayed somewhat close…until the Chute.  The driver appears to have gone pretty deep into the Chute turn, and ended up going a little too wide, hitting the outer bales and bouncing off, heading further up the Chute before coming to a stop.
    • Men’s Heat 6 – Once again, SDC B’s Rage had a troublesome day.  Going up against Spirit B’s Seraph and CIA D’s Icarus, the rebuilding SDC found themselves well behind Spirit going into the freeroll.  But Rage was rolling faster than Seraph.  Rage tried to pass at the Stop Sign, and then a second time at the transition flag, but couldn’t get past either time.  The third and final attempt came in the Chute, but it didn’t go well.  SDC tried to take the inside line, but couldn’t turn tightly enough and drifted slightly wider.  However, Seraph was right on the outside of Rage.  Rage hit Seraph on the right side, pushing both buggies across the Chute and into the outer haybales.  It seems that initially, SDC was deemed to be at fault, and Spirit B was granted a reroll for later on Friday. However, after tape review, SDC was found to have completed the pass; therefore, they were reinstated and granted a reroll on Saturday.
    • Men’s Prelims Heat 7 – More pothole flights at the top of Hill 2, as Apex A’s Ember, who went into the freeroll nipping at the tail of SigEp A’s Kraken, hit a pothole and caught air, causing a fair amount of swerving to regain control of the buggy.
    • Men’s Prelims Heat 8 – PiKA A’s Banshee led the entire way and stayed out of trouble.  But they suffered devastation at the finish line, as the Hill 5 pusher was unable to catch up to the buggy and the team ended up DQ’d for a pushbar violation in a year that they likely could have taken home the gold. Meanwhile, behind them, Spirit C’s Mapambazuko had some issues and spun in the Chute.  The spin wasn’t on camera, but it wasn’t major, and CIA C’s Icarus was going slow enough that it was able to adjust and avoid a collision.
    • Reroll #1 – The first reroll took place on Friday and it was a mixed heat, between CIA Men’s D’s Impulse, Spirit Men’s B’s Seraph, and PhiDelt Women’s A’s Perun.  Spirit B led up the front hills and in the freeroll, but as they reached the Chute, the driver slightly overturned and spun out…or so it seemed.  The buggy spun sideways and very slowly rolled towards the inner haybales.  However, the driver had the presence of mind to turn the wheel back up the Chute.  The buggy had just enough movement that the buggy began to turn.  Just as she was about to touch the inner haybales, the number of bales went from 2 rows to 1.  That extra space was all the driver needed to save it.  Of course, at this point the buggy was basically stationary, so the Hill 3 pusher needed to come down to the middle of the Chute to pick up the buggy.  Meanwhile, when Seraph spun, the flaggers noticed and immediately threw the brake flags, not realizing that Spirit had, in fact, not hit anything and continued to roll.  Both Impulse and Perun stopped, and Impulse would be granted a second reroll to come at the end of the day on Friday, while it does not appear that PhiDelt elected to roll again.  However, Impulse’s second reroll wasn’t without drama either, as a jogger ran across the street at the transition flag just as the buggy was approaching it.
    • Men’s Finals Heat 1 – The first Men’s Finals heat of the day paired SigEp B’s Barracuda against SDC C’s Bane.  SigEp led into the freeroll, but as Barracuda turned into the Chute, it suffered what appeared to be a common problem for SigEp in the era – a steering malfunction.  The buggy started turning just fine, but suddenly it stopped turning and headed straight for the outer haybales.  SDC then entered the Chute and saw the crashed SigEp buggy, possibly causing the driver to oversteer and leading to a spinout of their own after the buggy lost a wheel when it hit the patch in the Chute.  But because of the SigEp crash, SDC C was granted a reroll for later on Saturday and completed the course just fine.
    • Men’s Finals Heat 3 – As noted above, SDC’s Hill 5 pusher saved the day and earned SDC’s 4th consecutive Men’s title thanks to a successful faceplant.
    • Men’s Finals Heat 5 – As noted above, CIA A’s Ascension made its second consecutive daring pass on the day, passing Spirit A’s Inviscid on the inside as the buggies entered the Chute. Meanwhile, Spirit wasn’t quite as lucky as SDC, and they ended their rough year with a pushbar DQ after the Hill 5 pusher couldn’t catch up to the buggy.
  • The Exhibition Roundup – 2015.  For the first time in 5 years, two full days of racing meant some actual exhibitions!  Unfortunately, the 5 years off made it seem like Sweepstakes might not have realized what Exhibitions were all about – fun.  So each organization was only granted 1 exhibition heat, leaving many alumni out of the equation.
    • Exhibition Heat 1 – SDC’s Bane (Lane 1), PiKA Men’s A’s Banshee (Lane 2), Spirit’s Mapambazuko (Lane 3).  After missing the pushbar and earning a DQ on Friday, PiKA decided to see what they could do on Saturday anyway, just in a form that didn’t count.  The Men’s A team came out with Banshee and ran well, clocking in at 2:12.81, which would have put them right in the mix.  However, that time would have only earned them a 3rd place finish.  Meanwhile, Spirit finished in 2:37.85, and we don’t have a final time for the SDC team.
    • Exhibition Heat 2 – Apex’s Ember (Lane 1), Fringe’s Beacon (Lane 2), CIA’s Impulse (Lane 3).  Originally this was going to be 3 driver’s teams, but CIA opted to let their alumni push instead, and Fringe had some of its Women’s B team push.  CIA’s pushers included Arnold Blin, Guillermo Gomez, and Conrad Zapanta.  The CIA alumni won the heat, finishing in 2:44.46.  Meanwhile, Fringe was ahead of Apex until the Hill 4 pusher waited for Apex to catch up.  The two teams pushed Hill 5 together, beginning with two sweepers acting as if the buggies were curling stones, and ending with the two Hill 5 pushers trading on and off.  The Fringe buggy finished first, in 3:42.24, with Apex a nose behind.
    • Exhibition Heat 3 – Spirit (Inviscid) vs. PiKA (Banshee) Grudge Match.  PiKA may have false started, and PiKA’s Hill 1 pusher tripped early and took a big fall, forcing Hill 2 pusher Andy Bordick to chase down the buggy early.  That allowed Spirit to pull in front, but PiKA gained in the freeroll and up Hill 3.  The two teams were even as Hill 4 started, but Spirit Hill 4 pusher Evan Moss blew his much older counterpart away and Spirit easily won the race.
      • PiKA – Steve Farrell, Andy Bordick, Dave Conley, JT Scott, Mike Smith – Average Age: 46.  Final time: 2:42.45
      • Spirit – Bob Patterson, Link Brown, Thomas Felmley, Evan Moss, Cory McDonald.  Final time: 2:34.63
  • 2015 Photos. Below are a couple of additional photos that are not included in the BAA Gallery:
2015 – Senior mechanical engineering student Glenn Philen chases Spirit A’s Inviscid on Hill 3 (from the 04-20-2015 Tartan)
2015 – Senior professional writing major Chandler Caufield sprints after Fringe Women’s A’s Bissa on Hill 1 (from the 04-20-2015 Tartan)
2015 – Rage (inside) and Seraph (outside) enter the Chute together; this photo was taken a split second before the back left wheel of Rage collides with the right side of Seraph, pushing both buggies into the outer bales together (from the 04-20-2015 Tartan)

4 thoughts on “100 Years of Buggy History – 2015”

  • Jeremy Tuttle says:

    According to our (admittedly incomplete, but pretty good) historical data, only two buggies over the age of 15 have ever trophied: Golden Goose, 6th place, 1974, age 19; and Rage, 5th place, 2015, also age 19. Pretty good company to be in, I’d say!

  • I believe it was SigEp’s ceramic wheel bearing that failed in finals and not their steering. Not for the first or last time.

  • SigEp Women’s A didn’t get a buggy to the line, but did swap the A pushers to the B buggy in a later heat. Barracuda might have been the better choice anyway, but it failed drops, probably costing them a trophy. And it made for an unexpectedly exciting prelim heat with CIA A.

    Equinox also failed drops in finals as CIA Men’s B, definitely costing them a trophy, but a smaller one than if it had failed in its women’s final.

    Starting prelims on that much water was insane. Continuing after the first couple heats proved how bad conditions were was even more insane.

  • With teams not running full prep in the wet, and all the A/B swaps, the seeding for women’s finals was always going to produce tight races. Anyone else but SAE would’ve given SDC a hard time on the freeroll. I can’t think of a logical explanation for SDC losing so much ground before the turn other than that they didn’t run full prep in finals either. Their men’s hill 2 was fast enough to partly make up for it, so that freeroll just looks “slow for SDC”.

    For all the discussion at the time of bad roads leading to slow freerolls, the winning women’s FR was just over 1s off the 2009 record. The next year, on a repaved chute, with the same buggy and driver, CIA would put up … the same time. Trying to make sense of the new competitive order spurred a few BAA data collection efforts in following years.

    In addition to Spirit’s variety of wheels is this time period, they also seem to have been tuning their wheel placements, with axle lengths and asymmetry varying over 2014-2015 on the same buggy.

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