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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): 2019 Rewatch
This week, the 100 Years of Buggy History series has finally reached the most recent real life Raceday, its original end point. After 99 years of racing and 8 months of articles, we’ve made it to 2019. And what a year it was. In one of the closest battles in history, SDC managed to break the record for longest winning streak, by taking their 8th straight Men’s title, but it wasn’t easy for them as they lost the all-time winningest buggy in the process. We’ve also got some faculty racing, some mascot racing, some wheel-to-wheel racing, some autonomous racing, some incredibly bad luck, and a faceplant for the ages.
Raceday: Prelims on Friday, April 12 at 8:00am; Finals on Saturday, April 13 at 8:00am
Sweepstakes Committee: Hunter Rideout/Joyce Chen (Chair); Joyce Chen/Willy Clark (Ass. Chair); Elyce Milligan/Bonnie Li (Safety); Andre Gutierrez (Design)
Men’s Results: (1) SDC A – Bane (2:06.61); (2) PiKA A – Banshee (2:06.79); (3) CIA A – Equinox (2:10.62); (4) SigEp A – Barracuda (2:14.05); (5) PiKA B – Cleona (2:14.86); (6) Spirit B – Seraph (2:15.22)
Women’s Results: (1) SDC A – Bane (2:27.30); (2) PiKA A – Banshee (2:31.14);(3) CIA A – Emperor (2:33.87); (4) Fringe A – Blind Faith (2:36.26); (5) SDC B – Vice (2:40.56); (6) CIA B – Equinox (2:40.63)
Design Comp: (1) Fringe – Blind Faith; (2) Fringe – Blueshift; (3) CIA – Equinox
Other Awards: (Lifetime Chairman’s Choice) Anne Witchner; (Lifetime Spirit of Buggy) Tom Wood; (People’s Choice) Fringe – Blind Faith; (Chairman’s Choice) Fringe; (Spirit of Buggy) SigNu; (T-Shirt) Atlas; (Chairman of the Year) SigEp – Sophie Halpern & Carl Young
Weather: Cloudy and Windy late, 61-75 Degrees on Friday; Mostly Cloudy, 48-62 Degrees on Saturday
Prediction Score: 14/55 Men’s, 33/55 Women’s (Compubookie); 38/55 Men’s, 27/55 Women’s (BAA)
- Buggy Honorees. Since the 1970s, Tom Wood and Anne Witchner have been an integral part of the Buggy community. Tom began as a PiKA brother, later becoming one of the first Safety Chairs, a regular head judge, and then Buggy Historian, in addition to playing a critical role in improving the safety of Buggy. Anne began as the Sweepstakes Advisor for CMU, becoming the long-time bridge between the Buggy community and the school administration, as well as the greater Pittsburgh community. They are both staunch advocates for Buggy, and without them we don’t really know if we’d be here today. So it was only right that on the eve of the 100th Anniversary of Buggy, these two pillars of the community were honored. During the Awards Ceremony, Tom Wood was awarded with a special Lifetime Spirit of Buggy Award, while Anne Witchner was given the Lifetime Chairman’s Choice award. In addition, those two awards were renamed in their honors going forward. 2020 saw the first ever Tom Wood Spirit of Buggy and Anne Witchner Chairman’s Choice Awards given out.
- Split Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes Committee took an interesting approach to handling the 2018-2019 school year. Ever since the early 2010s, Sweepstakes had been elected at the end of the Spring semester (rather than the beginning of the Fall semester), which resulted in more efficient administration. But for the 2018-2019 school year, the Buggy community had trouble finding people willing to fill the Sweepstakes positions for the full year. So they came up with a compromise. Bonnie Li was voted in as Safety Chair, but she was not scheduled to take the role over until the Spring semester, leaving 2018 Ass. Chair Elyse Milligan to assume the role in the Fall (with 2018 Safety Chair Jasio Santillan also around the course to help out as needed). Hunter Rideout and Joyce Chen were co-elected Sweepstakes Chair, with Hunter taking the position in the Fall until he graduated, when Joyce Chen would then take over for the Spring. Joyce served as the Ass. Chair in the Fall, but when she took over as Chair, that led to a new election in at the beginning of the Spring, where PiKA pusher Willy Clark was elected as the new Ass. Chair. Because of the unique circumstances, however, the chairmen voted to allow Willy to still push for PiKA on Raceday, on the condition that he recuse himself from Sweepstakes decisions related to the Men’s races.
- More Herstory in Buggy. In 2019, driver Sophie Halpern made Buggy history. She was officially named Chairwoman of her Buggy organization. What made it unique is that she drove for fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. This was the first time that a woman had ever been named the chairperson of a fraternity team. To add to the excitement, she and her co-chair, SigEp brother Carl Young, took home the trophy for Chairperson of the Year.
- Tight Battle for the Men’s Title. The last time that the Men’s races were actually competitive was 2015, when the teams all slowed down and we had the slowest final time 1981. While the finishing time that year wasn’t fast, the top 3 teams were all within 0.6 seconds. Since then, SDC had pulled away again, putting their stamp on the 2010s. For 2019, they had one more solid Raceday in them, but this time PiKA had plans to end SDC’s streak. Without Malice or Inferno on the course, SDC turned to Bane, their champion from 2012-2013, as their Men’s A team buggy. But after the Prelims, SDC A’s time of 2:08.98 found them lower on the leaderboard than any time in the previous 4 years – second place. Instead, it was PiKA A’s Banshee that held the top spot, clocking in at 2:07.22. That left the battle for Saturday. SDC A, coming out of Finals Heat 4, put together an excellent run, clocking in at 2:06.61. That gave PiKA a target to try and beat in Finals Heat 5. Early in the race, it looked like PiKA had the edge, as they were nearly 2 seconds faster than SDC on Hill 1 and nearly 1 second ahead at the crosswalk. Things changed in the freeroll, as Bane had a Chute speed of 36.44 mph, compared to Banshee’s 35.8 mph. The gap between the two buggies had fallen to nothing by the time they reached the Stop Sign, and SDC was faster to Hill 3. SDC reached the Hill 3-4 transition only 0.3 seconds ahead of PiKA, and PiKA’s Hill 4 was faster than SDC’s. But SDC Hill 5 pusher Brandon Foster flew up Hill 5, while PiKA Hill 5 pusher Cam Wilkerson wasn’t quite as fast. PiKA A crossed the finish line in 2:06.79, just 0.18 seconds away from their first title in 11 years.
- SDC’s Record 8th Win. It’s a bit ironic that the 2019 races were the closest Men’s races since 2008. In 2008, PiKA’s 0.15 second victory over SDC earned them their 7th consecutive victory, the longest streak in Buggy history. That is, until 2019. With SDC’s 0.18 second victory over PiKA in 2019, SDC officially broke PiKA’s winning streak record by winning their 8th consecutive Men’s race. It’s hard to overstate the level of dominance that SDC demonstrated in the 2010s. And for 2019, they weren’t content with just the Men’s title. The SDC Women’s A team, also pushing Bane, earned their 3rd consecutive victory (and 7th victory of the decade) with a dominating performance, earning a final time of 2:27.30, nearly 4 seconds ahead of second place PiKA A.
- The First Ever Faculty Race. In 2017, CIA had lined up a team of CMU faculty, who had mostly been former CIA members when they were students, to push an exhibition heat. The roll was cancelled due to weather, but the idea lingered. So in 2019, a coordinated effort from alumni managed to get 2 different faculty teams together. On Saturday morning, a team of faculty from Mellon College of Science lined up to push CIA’s Aurora, while a team of faculty from the College of Engineering lined up to push PiKA’s Cleona. The CIT team was even a family affair, as the driver of Cleona was freshman Katy Zapanta, daughter of Hill 5 pusher and Assistant Department Head/Teaching Professor (and former CIA member) Conrad Zapanta. And as an extra special treat, CMU Provost Jim Garrett joined in as the starter for the race. Although both teams had pushing trainers, a couple of mishaps still occurred. MCS Assistant Dean Ken Hovis, the MCS Hill 1 pusher, tripped while pushing and did a “barrel roll”, though he managed to get back up in stride and maintain his early lead. Meanwhile, one of MCS’s Hill 5 pushers appeared to pull a hamstring while pushing. But it wasn’t just a novelty; the race got very exciting on the back hills, as MCS, who trailed from the start of the freeroll, managed to catch up and pass CIT as they approached Hill 5. As the race finished, faculty superiority in Buggy belonged to MCS, who clocked in at 2:58.36, with CIT finishing in 3:05.17. We hope that this is the start of a new division of Buggy (and this writer is pulling for Dietrich College (AKA H&SS) to show those scientists and engineers you don’t have to be in STEM to dominate on the Buggy course). The full rosters were as follows:
- Hill 1 – Ken Hovis (Asst. Dean for Educational Initiatives & Asst. Teaching Prof.)
- Hill 2- Rebecca Doerge (MCS Dean)
- Hill 3- Becki Campanaro (Asst. Dept. Head for Undergrad Affairs & Asst. Teaching Prof., Bio)
- Hill 4- Ben Hunt (Assistant Prof., Physics)
- Hill 5a- Maggie Braun (MCS Associate Dean for Undergrad Affairs & Associate Teaching Prof.)
- Hill 5b – David Handron (Associate Director for Undergrad Computational Finance & Associate Teaching Prof, Math)
- Diana Haidar (Asst. Teaching Prof., MechE)
- Kurt Larsen (Asst. Dean for Undergraduate Studies)
- Zachary Ulissi (Asst. Prof., ChemE)
- Victoria Webster-Wood (Asst. Prof., MechE)
- Sarah Christian (Asst. Teaching Prof., Civ. & Env. E)
- G. Ronald Ripper (Director of CIv. & Env. E. Facilities)
- Brian Belowich (Civ. & Env. E Facilities & Lab Engineer)
- Conrad Zapanta (Asst. Dept. Head, Teaching Prof. Biomed Engineering)
- The Great Mascot Race. The Faculty race wasn’t the only instance of Buggy newcomers on the course. Between the Women’s and Men’s Finals on Saturday, the buggy community was treated to an extra special race. Sauerkraut Saul, one of the Pittsburgh Pierogies involved in the Great Pierogi Race, was on the course and issued a challenge to Scotty, the CMU mascot. Scotty accepted the challenge, and the two had a Hill 5 battle for the ages. SigNu brought out Bungarus Krait for Scotty to push, while Sauerkraut Saul lined up behind Apex’s Phoenix. The race was neck-and-neck the entire way up Hill 5, but thanks to Home Field Advantage, at the finish line Scotty had a wet nose in front and earned the victory.
- PiKA and CIA Lock Horns. Heat Selection in 2019 got a little contentious, particularly around Men’s Prelims Heat 6. CIA B had already selected Lane 1 in the heat for their buggy, Equinox. When PiKA was up to select a heat for their C team, they chose Heat 6. The PiKA Chair had clocked a particularly slow time for their C team Hill 1 pusher, Justin “Squid” Belardi, and felt that the heat against CIA would be appropriate. Sweepstakes Ass. Chair Willy Clark, a PiKA brother, was concerned about this though, because he knew from past experience that Squid’s Hill 1 time would likely be faster than the push practice time. However, both CIA and PiKA decided that they were OK with the matchup, and thus the two teams faced off against each other on Friday. But it turns out that Willy was right. PiKA C and CIA B were neck-and-neck up the front hills, and although CIA had a slight lead going into the freeroll, PiKA gave a huge Hill 2 shove and Wraith almost immediately caught up to Equinox. Wraith had to stay to the Flagstaff side at the start of the freeroll to avoid contact, but the two buggies seemed to be traveling at similar speeds. This created a problem as the two buggies moved to the other side of the street. PiKA took a line that kept the buggy on the white shoulder line, while CIA tried to move inside of that line. At that moment, the two buggies collided. In what turned into an awkward situation, CIA’s Equinox was slightly ahead of PiKA’s Wraith, and the right rear wheel of the standard trike Equinox got hooked into the front left wheel of reverse trike Wraith. The two buggies were traveling at the same speed and stayed locked together until the stop sign, when they slowed to a stop. Both drivers and buggies were fine (though the drivers were not necessarily happy about the occurrence). After a review, Sweepstakes determined that PiKA had been the trailing buggy and had not completed a pass before contact was made. Therefore, they DQ’d PiKA C for causing the contact, and granted CIA B a reroll for Saturday morning.
- Whose Buggy Is It Anyway? Following a spin in Women’s Prelims Heat 5, there was a delay before the next heat. Originally, heats were scheduled to run 9 minutes gun-to-gun, but extra time was added after the spin. When the Chute was cleared, Sweepstakes informed the teams in the next heat, Fringe A and PiKA B, that they would be resuming in 8 minutes. However, PiKA had a slight mix-up, and reset their team clock to 10 minutes. Thus, when Women’s Prelims Heat 6 began 8 minutes later, PiKA B’s Cleona was still in the truck. But a second buggy did show up on the starting line. Ironically, the delay plus restart time caused Women’s Prelims Heat 6 to start at exactly the same time that Women’s Prelims Heat 7 was originally scheduled to start. Apex C was scheduled to run in Heat 7, and they didn’t realize that races had been delayed after the spin in Heat 5. So Apex’s Azula was carried out to the starting line about 20 seconds prior to the start of Heat 6. The starter began to count down, and at 8 seconds, Apex finally realized that this wasn’t their heat. Azula was awkwardly backed away from the starting line and brought back to the truck.
- Somebody Stop That Man. In Men’s Prelims Heat 3, Spirit B’s Seraph faced off against SDC D’s Avarice. Spirit easily won the heat; the drama was behind them. SDC’s driver made her Chute turn a little too early and spun, going nose first directly into the inner haybales. It was a scary moment down in the Chute, as Avarice went into the inner haybales at near full speed and sent the bales flying, reaching the level of the curb. But in a stroke of fortuitous luck, the spot that Avarice hit was the access ramp to the sidewalk, so there was no curb to be hit, which kept both buggy and driver away from injury. But the drama wasn’t done for the heat. As the buggy spun, one of its wheels went flying into the Chute. An unidentified alumnus from a non-SDC organization quickly grabbed it, put it in his bag, and took off. A CMU police officer noticed the incident and alerted the SDC mechanics to the “thief”. After some initial confusion over who had the wheel (including some speculation that Mark Estes, who was on the Chute tower broadcasting the race, had somehow picked it up), the entire SDC team and two CMU police officers confronted the culprit and had him turn the wheel back over to SDC. As a result of the incident, the alumnus’s buggy organization was fined by Sweepstakes for “conduct outside the spirit of Buggy”.
- Malice Retires. Saturday, March 2 was yet another cold day, with temperatures just above freezing, and the big story of the day came from SDC. After a 1 year swap, during which Malice was the B team buggy, SDC had Malice on track to once again assume its position as top buggy in the fleet. But during the 3rd roll of the day for SDC, tragedy struck (for the buggy). Malice was rolling at its normal full speed, when just before the driver began her Chute turn, the front hatch came loose. Reportedly, once the hatch came loose, the driver was unable to properly make her Chute turn. The buggy went nose first into the outer haybales at an angle, and the buggy had enough speed that it penetrated both rows of haybales, making contact with the curb. The driver was examined by EMS but walked away without injury. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for Malice. The buggy suffered catastrophic damage (though we’re not holding our breath that we’ll hear what that damage was from SDC), ending the 10-year career of the greatest buggy to ever race. SDC would rearrange their lineup to shift drivers, putting A team driver Kyoko Inagawa in Bane (which she had previously driven in 2016 and 2017), while adding an urgency for SDC to roll out their new buggy, Vanity.
- The Dropping Pushbar Returns. Other than PiKA’s limited experimentation in the mid-1980s with dropping pushbars, CIA was the only organization to fully commit to the strategy. But as CIA transitioned from a fun but lower tier organization into a strong competitor in the late 2000s, they abandoned the dropping pushbar gimmick. They hadn’t raced a dropping pushbar buggy since Quasar in 2013 (at which point the pushbar was static), and hadn’t built one since Firebird in 2004. But all that changed in 2019. In a bit of an engineering feat, CIA managed to build their first monocoque dropping pushbar buggy, Aurora. It wasn’t the smoothest buggy, nor was it the lightest, but it did give the most joy to spectators and broadcasters on Raceday. The pushbar didn’t properly function at first on Friday, not dropping initially during the Men’s Prelims and then not going all the way down when it was finally deployed. But after CIA C was granted a reroll for later on Friday, CIA fixed up the pushbar and spectators got what they wanted – the pushbar both fully dropped at the start of the freeroll, then became fully erect as it approached Hill 3.
- Bad Luck for Blind Faith. Fringe once again built a new buggy, adding a reflective windshield. Originally codenamed “Bookie Monster”, the buggy soon earned its official name, Blind Faith. The buggy included a tribute to Fringe’s 50th anniversary, taking place in 2019. But for as much blind faith as people had in the buggy, it was almost inconceivably unlucky during the Prelims. Racing alone in Men’s Prelims Heat 5 for Fringe B, a mistake from the Fringe Chute flagger led to a stop flag accidentally being thrown, rather than the go flag. Driver Sarah Connor, seeing the flag and knowing that if she stopped she could be in the way of the trailing buggy, Apex C’s Azula, decided to brake in an unusual way. She decided to abandon the Chute turn and head straight down the bridge towards Pitt, squeezing the buggy between two barricades and slowing to a controlled stop. It looked scary in the moment, but the control she had to avoid hitting any barricades suggested to spectators that this may have been intentional. A later review revealed that it was. Unfortunately, since the brake flag was an organizational error, a requested reroll was denied. Meanwhile, when it comes to bad luck, the Men’s race had nothing on the Women’s race. Rolling alone in Women’s Prelims Heat 6 as the Fringe A buggy, Blind Faith entered the freeroll without issue. But as it was heading towards the Stop Sign, a gust of wind suddenly blew some leaves and other debris across the street. Somehow, one item of debris was a plastic burger wrapper from a (presumably) nearby deli. The bag wrapper was only the size of a regular hamburger, but the gust of wind caught the litter perfectly. The plastic bag blew right in front of Blind Faith’s front left wheel moments before Blind Faith reached it, and as the buggy rolled over the bag, the bag caught on the wheel. The bag stayed attached to the front left buggy for the rest of the race, causing the buggy to lose a fair amount of speed. The good news was that Fringe Women’s A still finished 4th in the Prelims, advancing to the finals where they shaved over 5 seconds off their time.
- Other New Buggies. Other than CIA’s Aurora and Fringe’s Blind Faith, a few other buggies made their debut in 2019. Apex joined the “every year” club with their third build in as many years, rolling out Solaris. After Malice was knocked out of the competition, SDC had no choice but to debut a new buggy (though they may have been planning to do so anyway). So they debuted their vanity project, the seafoam green Vanity. Lastly, PiKA debuted their first new buggy in 3 years, and in a bit of a change they went back to a reverse trike. The new buggy, Wraith, was the organization’s first reverse trike since Nemesis was built in 2009. Unfortunately, this would backfire for them a bit during the Men’s Prelims (see above).
- Changes to the CMU Tech Shop Rules. In the Fall of 2018, the Mechanical Engineering department opened up a new student machine shop known as TechSpark, with the goal that the space would be open to all students. But as part of the preparation for the new space, CMU discovered that certain student organizations had their own machine shops (teams were often forced to do this, as the prior CMU machine shop was restrictive in who could use it). This discovery led CMU to consider a new policy prohibiting those student-run machine shops (the basis being that there is increased liability when students are responsible for maintaining their own equipment). But this led to some concern from the Buggy (and general student) community, as the new TechSpark shop had limited hours that did not necessarily align with a buggy team’s schedule, and the fact that it was a shared space limited what teams would be able to do in the space (due to both secrecy and the sharing of equipment). Other problems included overcrowding, especially in the lead-up to Carnival, and the requirement that students would need to take the Maker Series classes for access to the shop, which gave preference to CIT students. Add to that the fact that CMU’s Environmental Health and Safety department had already had in place certain rules for running machine shops and maintaining equipment, and teams were understandably concerned. The Buggy community was brought in early as CMU was looking into new policies around TechSpark to help address these concerns, and they were able to convince CMU to allow the student machine shops to continue (with some additional safety regulations).
- The King’s New Clothes. SDC had the King of the Hill in 2017 and 2018 in Jacob Hoffmann. Jacob, a nationally ranked high school sprinter who tied CMU’s 100m track record in his freshman year, was expected to lead SDC to their 8th straight win in 2019. But plans change. Much like Sam Benger 2 years earlier, Jacob had friends on another team – CIA. So instead of coming back to push for SDC in 2019, he decided to jump ship and push for CIA. In doing so, he took the King of the Hill crown with him, winning the plate in 2019 as part of the CIA A team.
- Compubookie’s Post-Race Predictions. Compubookie must have had an internal malfunction, as he didn’t send in his Raceday predictions until Raceday was already underway. So it’s even more disappointing how wrong the predictions were. On the Men’s side, Compubookie went with (1) SDC B (yes, B), (2) SigEp A, (3) PiKA A, (4) CIA A, (5) Spirit A, (6) SDC C, (7) PiKA B, (8) Fringe A, (9) Spirit B, and (10) Apex B. On the Women’s side, he was a little better, as he chose (1) SDC A, (2) PiKA A, (3) Fringe A, (4) CIA A, (5) SDC B, (6) Spirit A, (7) Fringe B, (8) SigEp A, (9) CIA B, and (10) SDC C. Meanwhile, the BAA again included their own predictions in the Raceday Preview. On the Men’s side, they predicted (1) SDC A, (2) PiKA A, (3) CIA A, (4) Spirit A, (5) SigEp A, (6) SDC B, (7) Fringe A, (8) CIA B, (9) PiKA B, and (10) Apex A. For the Women’s races, they chose (1) SDC A, (2) CIA A, (3) PiKA A, (4) SDC B, (5) Fringe A, (6) Spirit A, (7) Fringe B, (8) CIA B, (9) SigEp A, and (10) Apex A.
- Some New Construction. Posner Hall, home of the Tepper School of Business, had some construction beginning in the Fall of 2018. While the construction did not directly impact the streets or rolls (other than a random dumpster here or there), it did impact the buggy staging areas. Due to some fencing, CIA and PiKA were no longer able to share the porch at the top of Hill 2. Sensing this might be the case, PiKA camped out in the spot beginning at 10pm the night before the first rolls in order to secure their traditional spot. CIA was therefore displaced. CIA initially moved their staging area down to the bottom of Hill 1, but tended to bounce around throughout the year (often times picking up spots from teams that elected not to come out on a given day).
- Tepper Adds Buggies. In 2018, the Tepper building had asked Fringe for some buggies to put on display to recognize the CMU tradition. Fringe donated 3 buggies for the effort: Bantam (2006), Bristol (2008), and Balius (2015). During the 2018-2019 school year, both Balius and Bristol were put up on the walls of Tepper. But unknown to Fringe, CMU decided to repaint the buggies in order to fit in with the décor of the building. As a result, Bristol is now whiteand Balius is now black. Fringe later discovered that Bantam was just lying on the floor in the Marketing and Communications office, so after the 2018-2019 school year ended and Bantam did some showing off on behalf of Sweepstakes, Bantam was returned to the Fringe Buggy Room.
- A Rogue Barricade. On October 7, SDC was the first team up in the roll order. The first two buggies made it through the course fine, but Avarice, the 3rd buggy in the set, ran into some trouble by the name of a barricade. For some reason, a few city barricades had been left on the course around the Chute flag. As Avarice came through, the buggy hit one of the barricades, which sheared off the buggy’s axle and caused the buggy to spin in the middle of the street. Both driver and buggy (and barricade) were unharmed.
- And Missing Barricades. Throughout the Fall and early Spring semesters, Sweepstakes would notice that their barricades kept randomly going missing. Not only that, but they would find those barricades scattered around campus at other events. To prevent this from happening, Sweepstakes Chair Joyce Chen and Ass. Chair Willy Clark spent two nights in the Spring spray painting “CMU SWEEPSTAKES” on their barricades. The good news was this seemed to work; or at least make it more obvious when someone used their barricades.
- Ice on the Course. The weather during the 2018-2019 year stayed very cold, but unlike some of the recent past, cold itself wasn’t enough to cancel rolls. Fall rolls weren’t the most frequent, with only 1 weekend actually holding 2 days of rolls. That weekend, November 11-12, the temperature on Saturday got up to the mid-30s, which wasn’t enough to melt all of the ice on the street. So Sweepstakes did it themselves, using hand warmers and hot packs to melt a small patch of ice in the Chute. The same couldn’t be done for the first Spring rolls of the year on February 17. The temperature hit a high of 24 degrees during the morning, and a stubborn patch of ice at the top of Hill 2 refused to melt. So Sweepstakes put cones and barricades around it, warning drivers to stay clear. It was a sign of things to come with the condition of the top of the freeroll.
- Mini-Raceday. The lack of Fall practice showed on Mini-Raceday, as just before rolls Sweepstakes discovered that the team responsible for putting out haybales in the Chute had only included 1 row of haybales, rather than 2. The start of rolls were delayed slightly as a second row was added. Sweepstakes decided to time the first buggy for every org at three points: the crosswalk, Hill 3, and the Finish Line. However, we don’t have the results (if you have them, let us know!). Instead, we can say that 2 of the 3 fastest times of the day belonged to Fringe.
- Notable Women’s Heats
- Prelims Heat 2. There was plenty of drama when SDC C’s Vanity went up against Spirit B’s Seraph. Spirit B, coming out of Lane 2, actually won the battle up the front hills, going into the freeroll first. But this actually ended up costing Spirit. As soon as Spirit’s Hill 2 pusher shoved the buggy away, she began to run off the course towards the finish line. Unfortunately, in doing so she ran in front of Lane 1, where SDC was being shoved into the freeroll. No contact was made, but the SDC driver was forced to adjust her line, and therefore Spirit was DQ’d for interference. Meanwhile, Vanity appeared to be rolling faster than Seraph, and SDC’s driver moved outside to prepare to pass as they crossed the street at Westinghouse Pond. However, the buggy didn’t quite have enough speed, and SDC’s driver was forced to tuck back in behind Seraph. But with Vanity still rolling faster, the driver made the safe decision and tapped the brakes as the buggies reached the Chute flag. For the combo of the interference and the brake tapping, SDC C was granted a reroll for later on Friday.
- Prelims Heat 5. It was a tough day for Inviscid. Rolling as the Spirit Women’s A team against CIA D’s Icarus and Apex A’s Solaris, Spirit A unsurprisingly held the lead early and kept it up going into the Chute. Things went south, however, when the driver of Inviscid made her Chute turn. She took a tight light in the Chute and couldn’t quite control it, spinning out and ending up nose-first in the inner haybales. Apex A recovered from nearly dropping the buggy at the starting line and was able to go around the spun out buggy, while CIA D took an inside line and had to swerve to avoid the Spirit buggy. Apex A made the Finals with their time, and therefore did not require a reroll, while CIA D appears to have elected not to reroll.
- Prelims Heat 6. As noted above, due to Inviscid’s spin the prior heat and an internal miscommunication, PiKA B’s Cleona failed to make it to the starting line against Fringe A’s Blind Faith. And Blind Faith had quite the interesting race, as a plastic burger wrapper got caught on the wheel during the freeroll, slowing the buggy down several seconds.
- Finals Heat 1. The first Women’s Finals heat of the day was also the last Women’s Finals heat of the day. SDC B’s Vice, in Lane 1, went up against SigEp B’s Kraken in Lane 2. But SigEp B’s Hill 1 pusher mistimed her start slightly and ended up ever-so-slightly false starting. Much like track events, a single false start is not by default a DQ. It does, however, require a re-race. The teams were not alerted to the false start immediately, so each team ran the entire race. Only after they got to the finish line did they learn of the false start, so the entire heat was rerolled at the end of the Women’s Finals. In the reroll, SDC B got roughly 1 second faster, while SigEp B stayed consistent.
- Finals Heat 5. It’s notable because SDC A’s Bane won SDC’s 3rd straight Women’s title when going up against CIA B’s Equinox.
- Other DQs/DNFs. Here’s one you don’t see every year – in Prelims Heat 4, SDC D’s Avarice had trouble with the brakes and was DQ’d for failing drops. And for those who were following a Heat Schedule from 2019, PiKA C was technically scheduled to start in Lane 3 of Prelims Heat 1, but the team had actually scratched several days before Raceday, so they were a DNS.
- Notable Men’s Heats
- Prelims Heat 2. Heat 2 was a two-buggy battle between Apex A’s Solaris and SigNu A’s Bungarus Krait (complete with a male driver). Apex was expected to easily win the heat, but things went wrong quickly. Just like the Women’s heat, as Apex was carrying out the buggy, the team nearly dropped it at the starting line. Apex stayed ahead early on, but due to a mechanical problem, Solaris wasn’t traveling all that well in the freeroll (it had a Chute speed of 31.24 mph, several miles per hour slower than other Men’s A teams). SigNu started to gain on Apex, and Bungarus Krait caught up to Solaris at the Chute turn, taking an inside line and completing the pass. Apex’s pushers were faster than SigNu’s and Apex passed back at the Hill 3-4 transition, but the mechanical issues did too much damage and Apex A settled for a 14th place finish, the second year in a row that the Apex A team finished behind Apex B.
- Prelims Heat 3. As noted above, this heat pitted Spirit B’s Seraph against SDC D’s Avarice. The drama came from Avarice, who took the Chute turn a little too early and went near-full speed into the inner haybales. The force of the buggy sent the haybales flying, but thankfully, the point of contact was at the access ramp of the sidewalk. Avarice ended up part of the way up the ramp, but with no curb in place, there was no sudden impact to cause any serious injury, and the driver walked away shaken but physically OK.
- Prelims Heat 5. As noted above, Fringe B’s Blind Faith went up against Apex C’s Azula, but thanks to an errant stop flag, Blind Faith ended up on the bridge into Oakland rather than the Chute. The other interesting note came from the Apex team. Their final time was a somewhat slow time of 2:38.35. but the push team was made up of a group as freshmen known as the “Schatz Frat” – A group of students who became friends while dining in the Schatz Dining Room (the student dining hall on campus). They each pushed shirtless, with the word “Schatz” written in black marker across their chests.
- Prelims Heat 6. As noted above, CIA B’s Equinox and PiKA C’s Wraith were paired up in a bit of a poor decision. The two buggies went into the freeroll nearly simultaneously, and as the buggies crossed the street together, the wheels on the buggies became interlocked. The two buggies came to a stop just past the Stop Sign, and CIA B was granted a reroll, while PiKA C was DQ’d for causing the contact, as a result of initially being the trailing buggy and not being able to cleanly pass.
- Prelims Heat 8. One of the few 3 team heats of the day saw Spirit A’s Inviscid, CIA C’s Aurora, and Apex D’s Phoenix square off. Spirit A was well out in front early, but as the buggy turned towards the Chute, the driver overturned slightly, causing the buggy to spin. Inviscid ended up resting against the inner haybales. CIA’s Aurora, initially taking an inside line, had to swerve a bit to avoid a collision, while Apex’s Phoenix was unaffected by the spun out buggy. However, because of the incident, CIA C was granted a reroll for later on Friday (Apex D presumably would have also been entitled to one, but they appear to have not requested to reroll).
- Finals Heat 2. SDC B’s Vice went up against Spirit B’s Seraph, who initially had the 9th place time from Day 1. However, with Spirit A’s spinout in the Prelims, the B team roster was modified somewhat for Day 2. The changes seemed to work, as Spirit was well in front early. SDC B continued to gain in the freeroll until the buggies reached the Chute turn only 1-2 lengths apart. At that point, however, Vice nearly spun out. The driver made a great save to avoid a DNF, but scrubbed a ton of speed in doing so and fell well behind Spirit B. Spirit B finished 6th overall, earning a trophy, while SDC B finished 10th.
- Finals Heat 4/5. Finals Heat 4 had a battle between SDC A’s Bane and PiKA B’s Cleona, while Finals Heat 5 was a matchup of PiKA A’s Banshee and SigEp A’s Barracuda. And while the races are exciting in their own right, they are even more exciting when you watch them side-by-side, as you can see the small differences that led to SDC’s 8th straight victory in the closest Men’s race in 11 years.
- Other DQs/DNFs. It may surprise you to hear, but SigEp B’s Kraken managed to once again fail drops in Men’s Prelims Heat 1, earning yet another Drops DQ for SigEp.
- The Exhibition Roundup – 2019
- Friday Timing Heat 1– Robobuggy (NAND) – Due to cloud cover and a poor GPS signal, Robobuggy elected not to roll NAND autonomously. The final time of 2:52.24 set a robotic record on the course (though the true record when it comes to robotic buggies is in the autonomous time, the record of which was set in 2017).
- Friday Timing Heat 2– Atlas (Baby Buggy) – Similar to Robobuggy, Atlas elected not to roll fully autonomously on Friday. The buggy didn’t quite finish the course, as they stopped in the Chute and wrapped up the roll there (as the BAA website noted, Atlas earned a DNF as a result of an “upset baby” and a “time-out in the truck”)
- Saturday Timing Heat – Atlas (Baby Buggy) – Atlas fixed their Friday issues and were able to complete the course on Saturday. They initially planned for a hybrid roll, with a remote controlled front hills and beginning of the freeroll, followed by a fully autonomous end of freeroll and back hills. But when they attempted to switch to autonomous, the team couldn’t quite get it working. As a result, it stayed remote controlled for the entire race. The final time for the buggy was 7:49.34.
- Exhibition Heat 1 – Spirit (Kingpin), CIA E (Icarus), Apex (Phoenix) – CIA had too many legitimate pushers in 2019, so the mechanics in suits were relegated to the E team in an Exhibition. Meanwhile, Apex’s Exhibition pushers included well-known Buggy Alumnus Adam McCue (who graduated years before Apex ever existed). The heat was tight, with Apex leading going into the freeroll but Spirit right on their tail. Spirit nearly got boxed in as the buggies crossed the street at Westinghouse Pond, but the driver was able to swing wide to avoid trouble. The driver of Seraph then tapped the brakes between the transition and Chute flags in order to avoid a Chute pass. The two buggies were neck-and-neck up the back hills, and on Hill 5, Spirit was able to pass Apex, winning the heat.
- Spirit – 2:41.15
- Apex – 2:43.07
- CIA – 2:54.00
- Exhibition Heat 2 – Drivers (Seraph) vs. PiKA Women’s B (Cleona) – Due to PiKA Women’s B’s 5 second DQ on Friday, they were allowed to roll as an Exhibition on Saturday. Though it wasn’t the full Women’s B team; the PiKA Hill 5 pusher was a man. The Drivers team included at least 1 Fringe driver and 2 Spirit drivers, pushing Spirit’s Seraph.
- PiKA – 2:50.77
- Drivers – 3:14.21
- Exhibition Heat 3 – SDC E (Vanity) vs. Sweepstakes (Azula) – For the second year in a row, Sweepstakes decided to field an exhibition team. They went up against SDC, who set their mechanics up to push their Exhibition Heat. The heat got exciting, as Sweepstakes Ass. Chair (and PiKA A team pusher) Willy Clark gave Sweepstakes the lead up Hill 1, but SDC caught up on Hill 2 and went into the freeroll just barely behind Azula. SDC’s buggy was faster than the Apex 2018 build though, and the SDC driver was forced to tap the brakes in the freeroll to avoid passing. The race got close on the back hills, as Vanity was able to pass Azula on the roll up to Hill 3. SDC then pulled away on Hill 3 and took the win in the heat.
- Sweepstakes Roster: Willy Clark (Hill 1, Ass. Chair), Joyce Chen (Hill 2, Sweepstakes Chair), Elyce Milligan (Hill 3, Ass. Head Judge), Hunter Rideout (Hill 4, Head Judge), and Andrew Gutierrez (Hill 5, Design Chair), with Joanne Tsai (Apex) driving Azula.
- SDC – 2:39.11
- Sweepstakes – 2:45.76
- Exhibition Heat 4 – Fringe Anniversary Race – Fringe Men’s B (Blind Faith) vs. Blueshift vs. Boson – 2019 was the 50th Anniversary of Fringe, and as a result they had a ton of alumni in town. So they reserved an exhibition heat just for themselves. The original plan was to have 3 different alumni teams, but after the Men’s B team earned a DNF during Prelims, one of the exhibition teams was turned over to the B team. The result was that all of the alumni scheduled to push were then split up between the two remaining alumni teams, leaving roughly 2 pushers per Hill for each team. As the race began, the two alumni teams delayed their starts, so that the Fringe B team could race unencumbered. But by the time they finished, the Boson Alumni team was actually closer to the Men’s B team than to the Blueshift Alumni team. Of course, the Boson team did not have their hands on the pushbar as the buggy crossed the finish line.
- Fringe Men’s B – 2:20.81
- Boson Alumni – 2:27.22 (PUSHBAR DQ)
- Blueshift Alumni – 2:46.16
- Exhibition Heat 5 – PiKA (Cleona) vs. SigNu (Bungarus Krait) – A “grudge match” between two former powerhouses, SigNu’s involvement in Buggy had gotten so low by 2019 that they couldn’t even field a full Alumni Exhibition team. Instead, 2 PiKA alums helped push for SigNu, including Andy Bordick on Hill 2. In fact, Andy’s role as Hill 2 pusher for SigNu was enough to put him in position to accept SigNu’s award for Spirit of Buggy on their behalf after they failed to attend the Awards Ceremony. But the biggest surprise of the SigNu roster came on Hill 5, as SigNu brought in a previously unannounced ringer for the second half of the Hill – SigNu alum and broadcaster Mark Estes. But in one of the funniest moments in Buggy history, Mark received the transition and suddenly had a catastrophic shoe failure. He faceplanted without ever touching the buggy, watching helplessly as Bungarus Krait crossed the finish line with nary a pusher in site (see below). Meanwhile, the PiKA alums were easily victorious in the heat.
- PiKA – 2:29.00
- SigNu – 3:10.56 (PUSHBAR DQ)
- Exhibition Heat 6 – Faculty Race – MCS (Aurora) vs. CIT (Cleona). Details of this race are covered in much greater detail above, but I wanted to make sure to list it here in the Exhibition Roundup as well.
- MCS – 2:58.36
- CIT – 3:05.17
- Saturday Intermission Heat – Robobuggy (NAND) – Taking their Saturday roll between Women’s and Men’s Finals, Robobuggy officially made NAND the second buggy to ever complete the buggy course fully autonomously. It wasn’t a flawless run, as the buggy seemed to have a mind of its own in the freeroll and kept things at a slow, safe speed. But the important thing is that the buggy finished without incident. The final time wasn’t quite a record, but the fact that the buggy didn’t crash was.
- Robobuggy (Fully Autonomous) – 6:12.74
- The Great Scotty-Pierogi Race. As discussed in more detail above, CMU’s Scotty went up against Sauerkraut Saul from the Great Pierogi Race in a Hill 5 showdown. Scotty came away victorious.
- 2019 Photos. Below are some photos from The Tartan: