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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): 2018 Rewatch
This week, the 100 Years of Buggy History series reaches all the way back to…2018. The sun shown brightly, but the temperature didn’t follow, concluding a particularly cold and wet winter that limited the number of rolls. SDC romped again, with a record-tying 7th consecutive Men’s victory, and plenty of DQs and DNFs led to a sizable gap from first to second.
Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 20 at 8:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 21 at 8:00am
Sweepstakes Committee: Camilla Xu (Chair); Elyce Milligan (Ass. Chair); Jasio Santillan (Safety); Dave Singh (Design)
Men’s Results: (1) SDC A – Inferno (2:03.17); (2) SDC B – Malice (2:12.77); (3) CIA A – Equinox (2:12.96); (4) SigEp A – Kraken (2:14.69); (5) Fringe B – Bumper (2:15.53); (6) Apex B – Firefly (2:15.63)
Women’s Results: (1) SDC A – Inferno (2:23.60); (2) PiKA A – Banshee (2:35.01);(3) CIA A – Emperor (2:36.36); (4) SDC B – Malice (2:37.49); (5) Fringe A – Bumper (2:38.87); (6) Spirit A – Inviscid (2:39.06)
Design Comp: (1) Fringe – Bumper; (2) CIA – Emperor; (3) Fringe – Blueshift; (Honorable Mention) SAE – Eileen
Other Awards: (People’s Choice) Fringe – Bumper; (Chairman’s Choice) Fringe; (Spirit of Buggy) Spirit; (T-Shirt) SigEp; (Chairman of the Year) SDC – Joyce Chen
Weather: Sunny, 32-45 Degrees on Friday; Cloudy, 32-47 Degrees on Saturday
Raceday Video Playlist: 2018 Race Playlist
Prediction Score: 19/55 Men’s, 37/55 Women’s (Compubookie); 17/55 Men’s, 28/55 Women’s (BAA)
- Rules Changes. Sweepstakes looked at making some minor tweaks to the current rulebook, in order to clear up confusion and formalize some of the practices that Sweepstakes had been following. Among those changes were (1) the addition of a requirement that each buggy/driver combo was required to pass drops before each practice roll session that the buggy/driver combo was scheduled to participate in; (2) a restriction on driver speed, requiring veteran drivers to have their first roll of each semester bagged and new drivers to have their first 3-4 rolls bagged (once the driver reached 8 rolls in the fall, they would be considered “experienced” drivers for purposes of this rule and only require a single bagged roll in the Spring); and (3) making the follow car optional, instead allowing for a member of the organization, with an extraction tool, to join Sweepstakes at the top of the Hill in order to respond quickly to an incident. Also on the list of new rules was Robobuggy – The autonomous buggy team was tasked with working on some new rules for autonomous buggies to carve out their own place in the Buggy rulebook.
- SDC Blazes A Trail. Following the lead of Havoc in 2015-2016, SDC decided to build a new buggy for Raceday 2018, but rather than build it over the school year and debut it in the Spring, it made its debut on the course with the first rolls on September 30. Much like Malice was built for driver Michelle Mirabella after she set course records in 2008, the new buggy, Inferno, was built for driver Annie Black after she set course records in 2017. If you weren’t paying attention, you may have assumed that Malice would continue to be SDC’s A team buggy. But with their top driver in a brand new buggy, Inferno replaced Malice as the A team buggy for Raceday 2018, leaving the course record holder and all-time winningest buggy as the B team buggy.
- SDC Ties a Record. But while Malice may be the course record holder, that doesn’t mean that there was a significant drop-off between the 2009 build and Inferno. SDC went into Raceday 2018 as the heavy favorite, and the only disappointment was that the team did not set new course records again. The Women’s team finished their Finals heat in a time of 2:23.60, just fractions of a second off of the 2017 record and 11.5 seconds ahead of 2nd place PiKA A, the largest margin of victory in a Women’s race since 1996. On the Men’s side, the time wasn’t quite as close to the record, as Inferno clocked in at 2:03.17 in the Finals (after a 2:04.50 Prelim time). But thanks to a combination of DQs and DNFs, that winning time was 9.6 seconds ahead of second place, which was SDC B’s Malice. And while the Men’s victory wasn’t a course record time, with the win SDC tied PiKA’s record for longest winning streaks in Buggy history, with 7 wins in a row (SDC from 2012-2018, PiKA from 2002-2008).
- 2:40 Goes Trophyless. The 11.5 second gap between SDC A and PiKA A on the Women’s side makes it sound like the Women’s field was lacking. On the contrary, it actually shows just how fast SDC really was. One year after 5 Women’s teams broke the 2:40 barrier for the first time, 2018 topped that. In fact, for the first time ever, in 2018 a 2:40 time wouldn’t have even resulted in a trophy! Fringe B’s Blueshift crossed the finish line in a 2:39.77, which set the organization’s record for a B team with B team pushers (the only year faster was 2013, when Fringe B finished in 2:39.00, but this was with A team pushers after the A team DQ’d during Prelims). But the speed of the Women’s teams has improved so much that this time, an org record, was only good enough for 7th place, outside of the podium.
- Near Parity in Buggy. Those fast times on the Women’s side were even more impressive, as for the second time in 3 years, the Women’s and Men’s divisions in Buggy were nearly equal. 27 Men’s teams entered Raceday 2018 (the same number from 2017), but the number of Women’s teams increased by 3, making it so that 25 Women’s teams competed. This near-equal number of teams explains why Sweepstakes kept the 10-team Finals for both Men’s and Women’s.
- Come On, Eileen. SAE may not have been a super-dedicated team, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t active. In 2018, SAE came out to cape Lucy in the fall, but their driver was unable to fit the buggy while wearing a helmet. So SAE brother Chris Calder decided that, instead of figuring out a way to fix it, they’d just build a new buggy! He was more or less a one-man build team, designing a new buggy from scratch (with some guidance from Safety Chair Jasio Santillan) and then grabbing a couple of brothers to help with wraps. The end result was a buggy that did not resemble anything that SAE had done before; in fact, it most resembled CIA’s Icarus/Equinox design. The resulting buggy was a standard trike, switching from the style that SAE had followed with the rebuilt Rubicon and Lucy. With a limited crew, it took a while to put all together, and the team was barely able to get it out to the course. But they made it! The buggy debuted just 2 weeks before Raceday and was able to get enough rolls to qualify. Though even that wasn’t without some drama – an unidentified team tried to have SAE removed from Push Practice at one point because the buggy’s rear hatch was not attached. But Sweepstakes was having none of that. And for as long as it took SAE to come out with their new buggy, it took even longer to come up with a name. According to Dave Singh, 2018 Design Chair, SAE decided at the last minute that they wanted to enter Design Competition, though the buggy was still unnamed. Dave jokingly told them that he would allow the buggy to be entered, so long as they named the buggy “Dave”. SAE apparently took a vote, but elected to stick with their naming convention – naming their new buggy after the driver of the previous buggy. Thus, Eileen was born. Ironically though, the buggy was driven in 2018 by the only male driver, SAE brother Larry Wu. The buggy was, of course, allowed to compete in Design Competition. It came up just a few points short of 3rd place, but thanks to all the effort that was put in for a design that was so clean and different from all the others on the course, SAE was awarded Honorable Mention for the buggy.
- SigNu Out. While SAE showed what a small buggy fraternity with a dedicated member can do, SigNu took the opposite approach. SigNu had been struggling for a while to get a consistent effort from their house in order to do Buggy. Bungarus Krait came out one day early in the Fall, but only got 2 rolls in thanks to some trouble with carrying, braking, and follow cars. It tried a second day on November 4, but the team had significant problems. During one roll, a triple-bagged Krait reached the Chute flag and suddenly appeared to start turning towards the Phipps Staff Parking area. The buggy eventually turned towards the Chute, but ended up hitting the curb. The impact with the curb, albeit at a slow speed, caused Krait to flip on its side, the second time the buggy had suffered that fate. EMS responded and eventually called in their vehicle to take the driver back to the SigNu tent, as the driver was shaken but physically OK. Understandably, it seems that the driver decided not to get back into the buggy after that. SigNu showed up one more time, on Truck Weekend, with a brand new driver. But under the new Sweepstakes rules, a driver cannot qualify on Truck Weekend alone. As a result, SigNu was unable to qualify for Raceday. As a consolation, Sweepstakes did allow SigNu to roll an Exhibition Heat, but it appears that they declined to do so.
- Reciting the Alphabet Backwards. Apex has had a somewhat unique style of finding push teams over the past few years. Rather than find a bunch of pushers, have them compete against each other, and put the fastest pushers on the A team, Apex has instead tried to find push teams in full. They have gone out to different organizations looking for 5 people interested in pushing, and then keeping those 5 together regardless of how fast or slow they are. In 2018, they used this approach to grab one push team full of members of the CMU Men’s Soccer team, and one push team full of members of CMU’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Mr. Yuk. Of course, because of the recruitment tactics, Apex didn’t necessarily have times for all of the pushers on the hills that they would be pushing. So Apex decided that the soccer team would be the A team and the Ultimate team would be the B team. But once they got buggies in front of them, it became very apparent that this was not the correct buggy lineup. The Apex B team, pushing Firefly, destroyed the Apex A team, pushing new buggy Azula. The B team time of 2:17.90 in Prelims put them 6th on Day 1, while Apex A snuck into Finals with a 9th place time (ignoring times from reroll requests) of 2:21.88. And it wasn’t just at the top level, as the Apex D team also managed to beat out the Apex C team by nearly 10 seconds. There was a lot of argument over whether this should have resulted in a “Rank” DQ – Some people believe that Rule 10.5.2 (“each organization’s entries must compete in the heats designated, sorted from fastest to slowest in the order “A, B, C, D”. Any entry violating this order shall be disqualified from the race competition.”) means that finishing out of order warrants a DQ, while others believe that this should just be a guide and shouldn’t be a DQ unless there’s intentional manipulation. Sweepstakes decided not to DQ Apex, but warned them the following year that they would be DQ’d if this type of incident happened again. In the Finals, Apex B got even faster, setting the Apex organizational record with a 2:15.63, earning the newest independent organization just their second racing trophy ever with a 6th place finish, while Apex A, after a reroll (as discussed in the Notable Men’s Heats below), earned a 10th place time of 2:20.61.
- PiKA Makes Things Interesting. Throughout the course of the year, PiKA had been rolling 2 buggies, Banshee and Cleona. But they only had 1 driver. They finally found a new driver just before Raceday and got her 1 roll prior to Truck Weekend. That left PiKA with the uphill task of needing 14 rolls and a pass test on Truck Weekend for their new driver in Cleona. Yet somehow, she managed to pull it off in a clean and efficient fashion. However, the rules limit the number of qualifying rolls from Truck Weekend to 5, after the SigEp incident in 2016 (note: we’re not sure what exactly the rule said after 2016, and whether the the language limiting qualifying rolls to 5 came as part of the 2019 rules update and replaced a prior rule, or whether the 5 qualifying rolls language was the original language). So PiKA petitioned for an exemption. The exemption was granted, but with a condition – PiKA would not be allowed to heat or treat their wheels for Prelims. Much to the chagrin of the PiKA alumni, PiKA accepted this condition, and thanks to a time that snuck into Day 2, they were able to heat their wheels for the Finals, resulting in a 4.5 second improvement and 8th place finish.
- Reckless Driving, Part 1. But the use of untreated wheels by PiKA wasn’t enough for some organizations. Certain organizations felt unsafe racing against PiKA in 2018, as they felt that PiKA’s drivers were overly aggressive in their driving. In the Prelims, the main victim of this was Spirit. In Women’s Prelims Heat 3, Spirit B’s Seraph went up against PiKA B’s Cleona, and although Cleona was well in front up the front hills, the lack of treated wheels allowed Spirit to narrowly pass at the transition flag, with a near collision coming as PiKA moved inside towards Spirit at one point. In Men’s Prelims Heat 11, PiKA A’s Banshee and Spirit B’s Inviscid went into the freeroll nearly simultaneously, with PiKA getting a buggy length advantage with the Lane 1 shove. Spirit’s driver was forced to brake almost immediately, though this was reportedly arranged beforehand, as the two teams knew that the buggies would be neck-and-neck entering the freeroll, so the drivers were told that the buggy that got the shove second should hit the brakes to avoid any safety issues and take the reroll. After the races, Spirit claimed that PiKA had deviated from the lines that they claimed they were going to take during the morning course walk, and that PiKA had even admitted to attempting to cut Spirit off in one of the heats. This may have been a misunderstanding though – The issue of deviating from a line was the result of a new driver with limited experience on the course, and the “admission” was, in actuality, a driver saying that she tried to stay in front during the freeroll (and the matter was quickly cleared up with Spirit). Spirit Men’s B was ultimately granted a reroll for Saturday, but the incidents put much of the buggy community on edge for the Finals. CIA was the most upset of the group, as CIA Men’s A had been paired with PiKA B in Men’s Finals Heat 2. CIA was uncomfortable over the safety risks posed by the lack of PiKA practice with their B team buggy and the aggressive driving. But after PiKA was given a stern talking to (being warned not to pull anything sketchy), the two teams went off together. The good news for CIA was that they were able to win the race up the front hills, avoiding any of the possible incidents (the heat ended up being a clean one, though PiKA was very close to a false start).
- Men’s Finals Lineup. During the Chairmen’s meeting after Prelims, there was a lot of concern on the Men’s side over similar speeds in the 5 heats. This was, in part, caused by multiple A team DQs, as the A team pushers would now be pushing B team buggies, so the Day 1 times were not representative of Finals speeds. The concerns over PiKA’s teams didn’t help either. Sweepstakes spent a long time working with the chairmen to reallocate the heats to alleviate safety concerns. They did this for the 10 teams qualifying for Finals, leaving out two teams, Apex B and SAE A, that had requested rerolls for incidents during the Prelims. After the heats were finally arranged, someone realized that Apex B’s and SAE A’s times were enough to qualify for Finals without the reroll, and so they could drop their reroll request and still be in the Finals. Apex had no incentive to do this, as by rerolling their B team, their A team was also able to make it into the Finals. But SAE had no reason to take the reroll, given that taking their 10th fastest time would have put them in a later heat than the reroll. However, after Sweepstakes had put all the work into aligning the heats and had informed SigEp C that they had made the finals, SAE decided to be considerate of others and take the reroll, allowing an additional Finals team.
- Reckless Driving, Part 2. I’ve always wondered why people in Pittsburgh don’t know how to drive properly in tunnels. All you need to do is continue at the same speed you were going before you entered the tunnel. For Raceday 2018, Safety Chair Jasio Santillan was one of the people responsible for getting the lead and follow trucks to the course. Unfortunately, while he was doing that, he turned into one of those Pittsburgh drivers that can’t drive well in tunnels. While in the middle of a tunnel, he ended up in a fender bender (the sound of the accident echoed throughout the tunnel, making it sound louder and scarier than it was). Not exactly living up to the “safety” part of the Safety Chair position.
- Fringe’s New Bugg(ies). In 2018, Fringe did what Fringe always does and produced a new buggy. The buggy was initially codenamed “Bumper” before a permanent name could be chosen. But then, people actually liked the name. So it stuck, and Bumper received a base coat of green paint with many bumper stickers added to it. The buggy was a design hit and took home the People’s Choice award, ending Spirit’s 7 year winning streak in the category. Bumper was equipped with wheels that were smaller than what we typically see on buggies, the first noticeable change in Fringe wheel technology since they tried 9 inline skating wheels. But it turns out that Bumper wasn’t the only “buggy” that Fringe produced in 2018 (though it was the only one with wheels). Thanks to the particularly cold and snowy winter, Fringe built their first “winter buggy”. They took an old pushbar, attached the bottom to some 2x4s, and attached that setup to an orange sled, which they took out to the hill outside Gesling Stadium. The sled buggy actually received a Fringe name – Bifrost. The “buggy” made its debut to the buggy world at Design Comp.
- New Buggies of 2018. We’ve already touched on a few new buggies above, with SDC’s Inferno, SAE’s Eileen, and Fringe’s Bumper (and Bifrost). Apex also completed their second consecutive build, producing a new shell shape with Azula. Other than them, it was a year of new robot buggies! Atlas acquired a baby stroller, strapped it with advanced technology, and rolled out Baby Buggy to the course. And Robobuggy improved on their previous build, Transistor, with a new robotic buggy equipped with colorful lighting, NAND.
- Sparks Fly for Spirit. On the second weekend of rolls, October 7, sparks flew on the course. And it wasn’t just from all the new driver/mechanic romantic connections. During one of Spirit’s rolls, the first buggy into the Chute, Mapambazuko, hit a slight bump entering the Chute. This caused a catastrophic wheel failure, as a structural strut failed and the front wheel pushed up into the buggy. With the bottom front of the buggy now dragging on the ground, sparks flew and Zuke skidded to a stop. The buggy was fixed and was back out the next weekend. But it wasn’t the last time that a similar incident would occur. On October 15, one of the Spirit buggies briefly stopped on Hill 3 after an audible scratching sound came from below the buggy. The buggy was briefly picked up and then set back down, where it continued on without incident. Then, on November 4, Inviscid was scratched for the day by the safety chair after the buggy had reportedly been scraping on the road at the bottom of Hill 1 while rolling on flat ground.
- Spirit Gets Nostalgic. Tired of SDC winning everything, including oldest buggy on the course with Rage, Spirit decided to try and outdo them. On November 12, Mini-Raceday, Spirit brought out a “new” buggy, Menes. Menes, a 1994 build, hadn’t seen the buggy course since the 1990s, so it was a bit of a surprise to see it make its way back out in 2018. Of course, SDC decided not to roll Rage in 2018, so Spirit no longer had to reach back to the mid-1990s to have the oldest buggy on the course (that title belonged to Kingpin, from 2002, followed by Seraph, from 2004). Menes never came out after that one day.
- An Unusual Steering Failure. Just 2 weeks before Raceday, on April 8, Apex had their new buggy, Azula, out at practice. Everything was going fine for the buggy throughout the day. On its last roll, the buggy made it through the freeroll without issue. But as it was being pushed up Hill 4, the steering suddenly broke, and the buggy made a hard turn directly into the curb. EMS was on scene and cleared the driver, but the buggy didn’t come away as clean. The nose of the buggy reportedly crumpled about 6 inches and needed major repairs. But Apex’s mechanics worked tirelessly and got the repairs done in time, with Azula coming back on for rolls on Truck Weekend.
- Some Spooooky Rolls. A couple of teams really got into the spirit of Halloween for Buggy, dressing their buggies up in costumes. The clock struck midnight and SDC’s Avarice turned into a pumpkin, while Fringe found some googly eyes lying around and attached them to the covering of a newly repainted buggy (that we’re guessing is Bolt).
- Mini-Raceday. Mini-Raceday took place on Sunday, November 12, with awards going to 4 teams. The categories were top total times for Men’s and Women’s, top Freeroll time, and top Back Hills time. SDC was the big winner, taking home both the prizes for the fastest Men’s time and fastest Back Hills time. Spirit won fastest Freeroll, while PiKA’s Women put up the fastest Women’s time of the day.
- Bad Spring Weather. Punxatawney Phil must have seen his shadow, because the Spring semester felt more like winter all the way through Raceday. The mix of cold and precipation led to a minimum number of Spring rolls, with only 2 full weekends of rolls leading into Raceday, plus 2 other individual days. It led to a little bit of scrambling on Truck Weekend, but every team other than SigNu was able to qualify.
- Predictions. Compubookie was back for 2018, but on the BAA site only. He did a very good job on the Women’s side, nailing the Top 6 (just swapping 3rd and 4th). The DQs on the Men’s side, however, hurt his predictions there. In the Men’s division, he went with: (1) SDC A, (2) SigEp A, (3) SDC B, (4) PiKA A, (5) Spirit A, (6) Fringe A, (7) CIA A, (8) Spirit B, (9) SigEp B, and (10) SDC C. On the Women’s side, he selected: (1) SDC A, (2) PiKA A, (3) SDC B, (4) CIA A, (5) Fringe A, (6) Spirit A, (7) SigEp A, (8) CIA B, (9) Spirit B, and (10) Apex A. The BAA also included their predictions in the Raceday Preview. The BAA was slightly bested by Compubookie this year. For the Women’s heats, the BAA chose: (1) SDC A, (2) CIA A, (3) Fringe A, (4) PiKA A, (5) Spirit A, (6) SDC B, (7) Fringe B, (8) SigEp A, (9) CIA B, and (10) Apex A. For the Men’s races, they went with: (1) SDC A, (2) PiKA A, (3) Fringe A, (4) Spirit A, (5) CIA A, (6) SDC B, (7) Fringe B, (8) CIA B, (9) Fringe B, and (10) SDC C.
Salt Awards. After the races in
2018, Sweepstakes got a little salty with the organizations. So they had a separate awards ceremony where
they were able to honor each of the organizations for the troubles that they caused
over the year: the “Salt Awards”.
Winners each received a golden salt shaker as their trophy. The winners were:
- Confused Alphabet Award: Apex
- Tattletale Award: CIA
- Most Likely to be Arrested Award: Fringe
- One Man Show Award: PhiDelt
- Febreze Award: PiKA
- Sweepstakes Sponsor Award: SAE
- “Rolls are on Hold” Award: SDC
- “Need a Hand?” Award: SigEp
- Perfect Attendance Award: SigNu
- Spark Award: Spirit (for the multiple incidents noted above involving front wheel issues)
- Drunk Driver Award: Atlas (for its constant swerving on the course)
- Identity Crisis Award: Robobuggy
- Notable Women’s Heats.
- Prelims Heat 2– The race itself, between CIA B’s Equinox, CIA C’s Tempest, and SigEp C’s Hydra, wasn’t all that interesting. The real notable moment came just before the race began. As SigEp rushed Hydra out to the starting line, one of the carriers lost his grip on the buggy, dropping it slightly and causing the buggy to hit the ground nose first. Both buggy and driver were ok though, and the race continued on as normal.
- Prelims Heat 3 – Spirit B’s Seraph and PiKA B’s Cleona were paired up for this heat, which demonstrated the importance of heated and treated wheels. PiKA B was well in front going into the freeroll, but Spirit had significantly more speed in the freeroll. As they approached the transition flag, Spirit and PiKA each made a beeline for their flags. Since PiKA’s flag position is far closer to the Flagstaff side than other teams, this left Spirit with an ample opportunity to pass. They successfully did so, though PiKA briefly drifted back in at a certain point, nearly creating contact with Spirit. The two buggies went into the Chute in what almost appeared on camera to be another collision, though no contact was made. Spirit ended up winning the exciting heat.
- Prelims Heat 4 – Sometimes 5 second DQ’s are overly aggressive applications of a rule (see Men’s Prelims Heat 2 below). But sometimes they’re a result of mechanic stupidity (or maybe just ignorance). In Prelims Heat 4, SigEp A’s Kraken went up against CIA D’s Impulse and SDC C’s Avarice. SigEp had their buggy out at the line and were holding it up, but for some unknown reason, rather than putting it down at 10 (or 8) seconds, they waited until the countdown got to 6 before they put the buggy down. That was too late for the mechanics to both get the buggy down and leave the starting area, and as a result, they were DQ’d for a 5 second violation. Meanwhile, even though SigEp’s time didn’t count, the race itself was exciting. SDC surprisingly won the battle up the front hills and ended up in the freeroll first, just narrowly ahead of SigEp, forcing SigEp to stay wide at the start of the freeroll and then go even wider in order to avoid some patches of pavement. Avarice was rolling faster than Kraken and opened up a bit of a lead throughout the freeroll. However, SDC’s Chute turn lost some speed and SigEp started to gain again as the two buggies rolled out. Once they got to the pushers, it was a classic A vs. C, and SigEp pulled away on Hills 4 and 5.
- Prelims Heat 5 – A second straight 5 second DQ, as PhiDelt A wasn’t able to get their buggy, Argo, to the starting line until there were 3 seconds left on the countdown in their race against Fringe A’s Bumper.
- Finals Heat 3 – It was a CIA matchup with CIA A’s Emperor in Lane 1 and CIA B’s Equinox in Lane 2. Some teams like it that way, and CIA didn’t seem to mind. The race itself was pretty uneventful. But sometimes spectators/alumni make things a little more interesting. As soon as CIA B’s Equinox cleared the Chute, a spectator on the inside of the Chute ran out into the road to take a photo or video of the buggies heading up to Hill 3. What that spectator seemed to have forgotten was that a massive pickup truck drives right behind the trailing buggy. The spectator was nearly run over by the follow truck, though thanks to some careful follow truck driving, no one was injured.
- Finals Heat 4 – The most exciting Women’s Finals heat of the day came courtesy of PiKA A’s Banshee in Lane 1 and Fringe B’s Blueshift in Lane 3. Unsurprisingly, PiKA A went into the freeroll with a lead, but it wasn’t a flawless run. A bad Hill 1-2 transition for PiKA cost the team time and possibly speed in the freeroll. Blueshift, behind early, was traveling much faster than Banshee and was gaining significantly throughout the freeroll (Blueshift’s Chute speed was 33.1 mph, vs. Banshee’s 31.8 mph). The additional speed in the freeroll enabled Blueshift to actually catch up to Banshee in the roll up to Hill 3, slightly passing as they reached Hill 3. But PiKA’s pushers were faster, and PiKA opened up the gap on Hill 4.
- Finals Heat 5 – Only notable because SDC A’s Inferno, going up against Spirit A’s Inviscid, came less than 0.5 seconds away from the course record in winning the Women’s title by 11.5 seconds.
- Notable Men’s Heats.
- Prelims Heat 1– One thing that’s come up in our Raceday Rewatch series is the frequency with which SigEp has failed drops over the last decade. That SigEp curse bit them again in 2018, as SigEp D’s Beyonce failed drops in Men’s Heat 1, after going up against Apex C’s Ember.
- Prelims Heat 2 – We’ve mentioned in the past that some people feel that the 5 second rule has gone a little too far towards enforcement by the letter, but not the spirit, of the rule. That came to pass in this heat, as PhiDelt A’s Argo was DQ’d for a 5 second violation that was very much borderline and not at all interfering with Fringe B’s Bumper.
- Prelims Heat 4 – SigEp B’s Barracuda went up against Fringe D’s Bolt, and while you wouldn’t expect this to be particularly close, buggy issues with Barracuda may have caused Bolt to be closer on the back hills than SigEp expected. The SigEp Hill 4 pusher, after transitioning his buggy towards Hill 5, came off the street towards the curb, but in doing so stepped between the Fringe buggy and the Hill 5 pusher preparing to pick it up. SigEp was not DQ’d for the incident, but it was a borderline instance of pusher interference. Not that it mattered, as SigEp B’s time was too slow for Day 2 (though the C team’s was not, making it into the Finals after rerolls and DQs).
- Prelims Heat 5 – CIA B’s Emperor, in Lane 1, went up against SAE A’s Eileen in Lane 2, but on the front hills it was all SAE. SAE was well in front early in the freeroll, but Emperor, with its large diameter wheels and significant improvements over 2017, was rolling much faster than SAE’s new build. Emperor caught up to Eileen as the two buggies made it to the Chute flag, and the CIA driver began her Chute turn early to make the pass. She then adjusted her line, drifting out a bit to a more normal CIA Chute line, but in doing so forced SAE’s driver to swing wide and adjust his own line to avoid a collision. The two buggies made it through the course cleanly and no contact was made so no DQ was warranted, but SAE was ultimately granted a reroll for needing to deviate from their own line.
- Prelims Heat 9 – Spirit A’s Kingpin was in the lead throughout the heat and finished with the 6th fastest time of the day, but ended up being DQ’d as they failed drops. The real excitement of the heat, however, was with the two trailing buggies, Apex “B”’s Firefly and Fringe C’s Boson. Apex actually stayed pretty close behind Kingpin in the freeroll, but Boson was the fastest of the buggies and was quickly gaining on Apex as they reached the Stop Sign. As the two buggies approached the transition flag, Fringe swung wide to attempt a pass on the Phipps side. However, the driver didn’t have enough speed to fully clear Firefly. As soon as they reached the transition flag, the Fringe driver realized that she was too close to the curb, so she moved out in order to avoid a crash. But she was not yet clear of Firefly on her right, and when she moved out, she collided with Firefly. The collision killed the speed that Apex had and allowed Fringe to pass as they headed into the Chute turn, but Fringe took a wide line while Apex hung tight to the inner bales, and Apex was able to pass back on the roll up to Hill 3. None of that mattered, however. As a result of the contact initiated by Fringe, Fringe C was DQ’d for contact and Apex B was granted a reroll.
- Prelims Heat 10 – Whatever hope SDC had of getting 3 teams into the Men’s Finals were dashed in this heat. SigEp A’s Kraken led up the front hills, with SDC C’s Avarice in 2nd and CIA C’s Tempest trailing. But Avarice had more speed than Kraken and was gaining throughout the freeroll. As they approached the Chute, Avarice had caught up to Kraken, but the driver couldn’t decide whether she had enough speed to pass. She ultimately decided not to pass, tucking in behind SigEp as they reached the Chute flag. But SDC’s flag came before SigEp’s, leaving Avarice to turn first. Unfortunately, SigEp’s Chute line was tighter than SDC’s, but with SDC turning first, SDC was forced to try and keep a very tight line in her turn. She couldn’t quite do it, spinning out and going nose first into the inner haybales. But because she was forced to deviate from her line, SDC C was granted a reroll on Saturday, where they put up a 12th place time.
- Prelims Heat 11 – As noted above, aggressive driving by PiKA A with Banshee out of Lane 1 forced Spirit B’s Inviscid to hit the brakes just as the freeroll began. PiKA was not DQ’d (though they may have been warned), and Spirit B was granted a reroll for Saturday.
- Men’s Reroll 3 – The 3rd reroll on Saturday was actually a Pseudo-Finals race, as Apex B’s Firefly and SAE A’s Eileen both had times that qualified for the Finals but took a reroll anyway (see above), so they were paired together for the reroll. That may not have been a great idea though. SAE blasted up the front hills and went into the freeroll about 1 second ahead of Apex B. The Apex driver thought she had more speed than SAE and went wide thinking she could pass at the start of the freeroll, but SAE held tough and Apex couldn’t catch up, forced to tuck back behind. The Apex driver tried again at the Stop Sign, but again couldn’t quite catch up. A third attempt at the transition flag also failed. So instead, she tried one last time as they approached the Chute flag, staying very wide between the flags and taking a ridiculously early Chute turn. The early turn finally worked and she was able to pass SAE, though the early turn also took her line directly into the path of a grate on the entrance to the Chute. SAE was forced to go a little wide as a result of Apex’s early entrance into the Chute (similar to its Day 1 effort), but did so without issue. Apex won the race and earned a time good enough for 6th place.
- Finals Heat 1 – Fringe B’s Bumper went up against SigEp C’s Hydra in the first official Finals heat of the day. After Fringe A DQ’d, the assumption is that these were the A team pushers, though the time was only a couple of seconds faster than the B team’s time on Day 1. SigEp’s time, however, was significantly slower than Day 1. The reason was that the Hill 5 pusher injured his leg early on the Hill. He gutted it out and was able to finish the race, but the time was particularly slow: 2:39.51, nearly 17 seconds slower than Day 1.
- Finals Heat 2 – CIA A’s Equinox reluctantly went up against PiKA B’s Cleona, as noted above. The race was close early, as PiKA B got a tremendous jump at the start (too good of a jump…?), and the two buggies were even up the front hills. Luckily for CIA, they had the advantage of being in Hill 1, and that gave CIA the 1-2 length lead that they needed to keep the lead the entire way around the course.
- Finals Heat 4 – The most eventful heat of the Finals came in Men’s Finals Heat 4, with PiKA A’s Banshee in Lane 1 and Apex A’s Azula in Lane 2. PiKA was well in front early and had no real issues putting away Apex “A”’s team. But that all changed when Banshee reached the Chute. The driver made her turn into the Chute and everything looked fine at first, with the buggy taking an inside line. But it appears that the driver turned the wheel a touch too far and the buggy spun, sliding up the Chute at a 90 degree angle, hitting the inner haybales nose first, before bouncing off and rolling back towards the middle of the Chute. Apex was able to avoid the spun out buggy, and was granted a reroll as a result of the spin in front of her.
- Finals Heat 5 – This heat didn’t have anything all that exciting going on, but it was the winning heat, as SDC A’s Inferno picked up its 2nd win of the day, 2nd win of its career, 7th Men’s win in a row for SDC, and 6th 1st place trophy for senior driver Annie Black.
- Other DQs and DNFs. It was a disappointing Day 1 for Fringe. Fringe A’s Blueshift stopped the clock with the 3rd fastest time of the day in Prelims Heat 7. Unfortunately, an unforced error in which the driver forgot to put in her mouthguard resulted in a Spot Safety DQ.
- The Exhibition Roundup – 2018. The 2 robotic buggy teams each raced on Friday and Saturday, but other than that, there were only 3 exhibition heats in 2018.
- Friday Timing Heat – First up on the course in 2018 was Atlas, with their new “build”, Baby Buggy. The timing heat for Friday did not go well. Although the roll was teleoperated and not autonomous, the team was having trouble sending signals from the follow truck to the buggy, and as a result the roll was scrapped shortly before the buggy reached the Stop Sign.
- Friday Intermission Race – One robotic buggy did finish the course during the Prelims, and that was Robobuggy’s new build, NAND. The buggy did not roll autonomously, but rather was teleoperated. And the time itself wasn’t too shabby, with a 21 second Hill 1 and 1:08 Stop Sign time. The buggy finished the race in a respectable 3:02.05.
- Saturday Timing Heat – The robotic buggies switched positions on Saturday, with Robobuggy’s NAND taking the timing heat. Once again, the team elected not to roll autonomously. The Hill 3 pusher underestimated how fast NAND would be in the freeroll and while waiting in the Chute for the buggy, the buggy nearly ran over the pusher. They were a little slower than Friday, stopping the clock at around a 3:09.7.
- Exhibition Heat 1 – The first true exhibition heat was a battle between 2 teams of Drivers. Driver Team 1 consisted of mostly Spirit pushers and pushed Fringe’s Bumper out of Lane 1, while Driver Team 2 was more “org-nostic” and pushed Fringe’s Bolt out of Lane 3. Team 2 wanted to prove that they were drivers, so they wore their harnesses while pushing. Team 2 had the lead initially, but it seems that Fringe wanted Bumper to go into the freeroll before Bolt, so SAE driver and Team 2 Hill 1 pusher Larry Wu held back so that Bumper could pull ahead. When it came time to push the back hills, Team 1 Hill 3 pusher Diamond Moody waited until Bolt caught up so that the two Driver teams could truly race each other on the back hills. But Driver Team 1 was much faster and easily won the race.
- Driver Team 1: Sarah Shy (Spirit; Hill 1), Adeline Shin (PhiDelt; Hill 2), Diamond Moody (Spirit; Hill 3), Beichen Liu (Spirit; Hill 4), and Rebecca Kang (Spirit; Hill 5), with Nina Prakash driving Fringe’s Bumper
- Driver Team 2: Larry Wu (SAE; Hill 1), Sophie Halpern (SigEp; Hill 2), Helen Kim (Fringe; Hill 3), Madison Scott (Fringe; Hill 4) and Bethany Bauer (Apex; Hill 5), with Sarah Connor driving Fringe’s Bolt.
- Driver Team 1: 3:22
- Driver Team 2: 3:35
- Exhibition Heat 2 – Apex (Phoenix) vs. SDC E (Vice) – The race itself wasn’t all that exciting, though it gave SDC mechanics a chance to push.
- SDC E – 2:31
- Apex– 2:51
- Exhibition Heat 3 – Sweepstakes (Ember) vs. Fringe (Bissa) – Not since 2009 had Sweepstakes competed in an Exhibition Heat, but in 2018 they decided to try again, taking on a group of Fringe alums. Of course, this time they had a slightly better buggy than in 2009 when they pushed Camo. But they also had better pushers, and Sweepstakes actually led up the front hills. They went into the freeroll first and had a pretty sizeable lead over the Fringe alums. Unfortunately, when Sweepstakes made their roster, they didn’t expect to be in the lead. Safety Chair Jasio Santillan, the Hill 4 pusher, was riding in the follow truck, which was now behind the Fringe buggy. So as Hill 3 pusher Linna Griffin transitioned the buggy to Hill 4, no pusher was around to pick it up. Linna ran and caught up to the buggy, holding it until the follow car could catch up and Jasio could get out. That enabled the Fringe alumni to pass the stopped Ember on Hill 4, and the alumni won the race.
- Sweepstakes: Dave Singh (Design Chair; Hill 1), Elyse Milligan (Ass. Chair; Hill 2), Linna Griffin (Head Judge; Hill 3), Jasio Santillan (Safety Chair; Hill 4), Samantha Wong (Buggy Book Chair; Hill 5a), and Edward Cao (Fmr. Head Judge; Hill 5b), plus Camilla Xu, Sweepstakes Chair, in the broadcast booth
- Fringe: Aubrey Higginson (Hill 1), Jennifer Gaspari (Hill 2), Patricia Fong (Hill 3), Kincaid Murray (Hill 4), and Mike Velez (Hill 5)
- Fringe – 2:58
- Sweepstakes – 3:15
- Saturday Intermission Race – Atlas fixed up Baby Buggy’s communication issues from Day 1 and this time they were able to complete the course! The race wasn’t fast, as Atlas clocked in at 6:01, but it was the first time that they had completed a race with Baby Buggy, a good step.