So here we are, at the end of the 100 Years of Buggy History. The goal of this series was to help celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Buggy at Carnegie Mellon by diving into the history of the sport a little deeper than you might otherwise find in the “History” tab on this site. It’s one thing to see that Beta won in 1935 with a course record, and it’s important for the legacy of the sport. But this series wanted to go beyond that. What buggy did they use? Who were the teams that they were battling against? How many heats were run? How close was the finish? And did you know that someone actually tried to sabotage them before the race?
It was these stories, beyond just the numbers, that we wanted to learn. And over the course of the last 8 months, and over 175,000 words/1,200 photos later, we’ve tried to paint as detailed of a picture of the sport for the last hundred years as we could. We learned that beyond just the 5 rules and pusher/driver swap that the 1920 race entailed, SigNu won the very first Design Competition that year with a buggy shaped like a chariot around a bicycle and the two man team dressed as charioteers. We discovered that the only tie in Buggy history was actually the result of overcrowding at the Finish Line, causing a collision and the inability for judges to see who actually crossed the line first. We found out that the wheel technology battle dated all the way back to 1923, when KapSig borrowed champion harness racing wheels to win the race. We determined that KapSig’s 6 race win streak in 1936-1941 was with the same buggy, though the silk covering was changed every year. We learned about the multiple controversial finishes in the late 1940s, including an DQ followed by an hour long protest from PiKA in the first year back from the war. We heard about the time that a driver of ATO’s Golden Goose blacked out and crashed due to a lack of oxygen.
We’ve read stories about collusion, trickery, sabotage, and playing “within” the rules, only to see those rules then changed. We’ve seen stories of triumph, of heartbreak, of empowerment and of disappointment. We’ve seen the rise and fall of any number of buggy dynasties. We’ve seen racing go from fraternities, to all Greeks, to fraternities and dorms, to Men’s and Women’s teams, to adding robotic buggies. We’ve watched as the coverage of the sport went from text, to audio, to video, and then finally to the full TV production of cmuTV, with our Raceday Rewatch companion series running once we got to the 2010s. We’ve gotten information from school media, local media, national media, and first hand tales from as early as the 1970s all the way through to today. And through it all, the enthusiasm and passion of the Carnegie Tech, then Carnegie-Mellon, and finally Carnegie Mellon student body for our unique sport has shown through.
So thanks to all of you who provided information, photos, and videos for this series. Thanks to all of you who have been following along with us from the beginning. Thanks to those of you who jumped in somewhere in the middle, or read some but not others. Thanks to those of you who, for the 2010s, have joined us on YouTube for our Raceday Rewatch series. And thanks to those of you who haven’t even started reading the series yet, who haven’t graduated from CMU yet, who haven’t started at CMU yet, and even those of you who haven’t been born yet! Because ultimately, the hope is that this series will serve as a living history of the first 100 years of sport, beyond just the numbers. We’ll continue to go back and update these articles as we get updated information, new photos, or anything else. In fact, if you haven’t read some of the early years since they were posted, they’re worth going back to – thanks to the CMU Archives, we’ve added a number of addition photos to the 1920s (and some other years as well) and added some additional information (we know what the Beanery was now!). So if you’ve got any information or photos that we’re missing, or you notice anything that you think is wrong, let us know!
Of course, this isn’t how the 100 Years of Buggy History series was supposed to end. Our original plan was to have the last post cover 2017-2019, leading into the celebration of the 100th Anniversary for Raceday 2020. But as the meme says, my plans may have been one thing, but 2020 had other ideas. So because of that, we’ve got one final year for the 100 Years of Buggy History series to cover…
Raceday: N/A (Virtual Raceday on Saturday, April 18 at Noon)
Sweepstakes Committee: Diya Nuxoll (Chair); Jake Muskovitz (Ass. Chair); Tishya Girdhar (Safety); Sabrina Wang (Design)
Men’s Results: N/A
Women’s Results: N/A
Design Comp: N/A
Other Awards: (Anne Witchner Chairman’s Choice) Spirit; (Tom Wood Spirit of Buggy) Fringe; (Chairman of the Year) PiKA – Rob Levin (Honorable Mention: PhiDelt – Mikey Fernandez); (Most Improved) Delta Gamma; (Workout Challenge) See Below
Raceday Video Playlist: N/A (Virtual Raceday Rebroadcast)
Prediction Score: N/A
- Coronavirus. The Spanish Flu pandemic ended in 1920, just before the first Raceday began. For 99 years, Buggy hadn’t had to deal with a pandemic. That all changed in year 100. Obviously, the biggest news of the 2019-2020 school year, and Raceday 2020 specifically, was the COVID-19 pandemic. Things with the virus escalated quickly. Teams went home (or elsewhere) for Spring Break planning out the final touches on their new buggies. But by the end of the Spring Break week, students had been told not to return to campus and that Spring Carnival, including Raceday 2020, had been cancelled. This was the first time a race had been cancelled since World War II’s cancellations from 1942*-1945. But just because the races themselves were cancelled this year, doesn’t mean there still weren’t stories from the year in Buggy.
- Buggy100 Celebrations. With Buggy beginning in 1920, Sweepstakes, the BAA, and Carnegie Mellon planned to go all-out to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Buggy at CMU. Dubbed Buggy100, the BAA created an official logo for the celebration, and many events were planned. The biggest of them was a giant centennial Buggy Bash for Friday Night of Carnival. Other Buggy100-related items included Raceday improvements (such as screens at the starting line, Window demarcations, and a new VIP Viewing Tower), Celebrations/Parties, and the debut of a permanent display in the Cohon University Center that honored Buggy. In acknowledgement of the large crowds expected to attend and eager to participate, Sweepstakes had even planned to cram a significant number of exhibition heats into the races over the course of both days, to make sure that wanted to would have a chance to participate.
- New Teams, Including Sororities. One major push tied to Buggy100 was an attempt to get as many new teams as possible out on the race course for Raceday 2020. To help in this effort, the BAA announced a “new organization grant”, providing reimbursements of up to $500 in Buggy expenses for new organizations (organizations that had not raced in at least the previous 2 years) to make it out to the races. The BAA also secured loaner buggies for those new teams to be able to use for the year. Several organizations took the BAA up on this. The most exciting part was that for the first time ever, two different sororities were expected to compete on Raceday 2020. Delta Gamma had expressed significant interest in joining Buggy and were the first new team out to the course in 2019-2020, borrowing Fringe’s Brazen. Alongside them, Kappa Kappa Gamma sought to return to Buggy for the first time since 2010, teaming up with Kappa Sigma to create the combination team “Kappa Kappa Sigma”. They obtained the Fringe loaner Insite and had made it out to the first rolls of the Spring, but had not yet completed a roll before the Spring Semester was cancelled. Lastly, AEPi had planned a return to racing with their 2009 build, Kamikaze. AEPi completed 2 rolls in the Fall, but had not yet come out in the Spring when Raceday was cancelled. We hope that these, and other, new teams will return to the course for the 2020-2021 year!
- New Buggies. There was only 1 day of rolls in the Spring before Raceday 2020 was cancelled. But 1 day was enough for us to see a couple of new buggies on the course. CIA brought out a trash-bagged new buggy, Kingfisher. The new buggy does not feature a dropping pushbar (after the one year attempt with Aurora), but it does feature a pushbar that is attached to the very back of the buggy, a non-standard pushbar placement. Not one to let a little virus and lockdown prevent them from keeping their build streak alive, Fringe also debuted a new buggy on the only day of rolls in the Spring. There isn’t much to say about Fringe’s new buggy, Baltic. From the outside, it looks just like every other Fringe build; however, we don’t know what it will look like when it’s actually painted, as we only saw it wrapped up. We did have rumors of other buggies that may have been due to appear, including possible new builds from Spirit (and maybe even SigNu), but Raceday was cancelled before we ever got to see if others would make it out.
- Chute The Sh*t. Of course, as part of the Buggy100 push, the BAA also made an attempt to increase the amount of content and engagement from the Buggy alumni community. One item that the BAA launched was a new podcast! The idea was conceived by broadcaster (and BAA officer) Will Weiner, the host of the podcast. In each episode, Will sits down with members of the Buggy community, from long-time Buggy alums like Tom Wood and broadcasters like Andy Bordick and Mark Estes, to current students such as the Class of 2020 Buggy Chairs (Mikey Fernandez, Chris Fulton, Olivia Keller, Rob Levin, and Andrea Sipos) and CMU staff/Sweepstakes advisors. The point of each episode is to have Will and his interviewees shoot the shit, telling stories about their time being involved with Buggy. Fittingly then, the show received the title “Chute The Sh*t”. If you haven’t listened to the show yet, it’s available on all of your favorite podcast platforms (Spotify, Google Play, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher), as well as via an RSS feed at http://linktr.ee/cmubuggy. Episodes come out roughly every other week, and even though the school year is over, there are still a couple more episodes lined up before the podcast finishes its first season.
- Buggy Endowed Fund. The BAA made another major addition to the Buggy community for the 2019-2020 school year. In celebration of the 100th Anniversary, The BAA, together with Sweepstakes, the CMU Alumni Relations Office, and the CMU SLICE office, officially launched the Buggy Endowed Fund! The purpose of the fund is to support Buggy not just for a single year, but for all future years as well. Donations made to the Buggy Endowed Fund go towards CMU’s endowment, and the fund receives distributions every year which will be put towards bettering the Buggy experience. More details on the Endowed Fund can be found here.
- Buggy Spreads Throughout Campus. It wasn’t just the BAA and Sweepstakes going all in on Buggy100. Buggy fever was spreading across the entire CMU community. The CMU Libraries were preparing an exhibit from their Archives about the history of buggy, with photos and documents that they had collected over the years. The Game Creation Studio class at CMU’s Entertainment and Technology Center spent the semester working on a Virtual Reality video game, called “Buggy All-Stars”, which was scheduled to make its debut during Spring Carnival. The CMU Bookstore was planning some buggy-specific items tied to Buggy100 and Spring Carnival 2020. Even the faculty were getting into it; rumors were that after the CIT vs. MCS race of 2019, the 2020 races would include an additional faculty team. While we didn’t get all of these things after Raceday 2020 was cancelled, all was not lost: the CMU Libraries released a book via PDF called “Nuts, Bolts, & Wheels: 100 Years of Buggy”, while the Game Creation Studio pivoted to an arcade-style game using the Unity platform with plans to make it available over the internet very soon.
- Virtual Raceday. With Raceday 2020 officially cancelled, Sweepstakes and the BAA got together to figure out what they could do to salvage some sort of Buggy celebration. The result was Virtual Raceday 2020. Virtual Raceday 2020 presented 33 of the “best” races from the cmuTV era (2003-present), with new commentary from alumni added on top. The 33 races shown actually included 53 buggy heats, as a number of the new race videos included never-before-seen split screens of some exciting heats from the past (and a few “comparison” split screens). But it wasn’t just races that were shown during the 3.5 hour broadcast. A bunch of new content was added to the broadcast, including an Alumni/Student Panel (via Zoom), an Abridged History of Buggy video, a video revealing the secrets of what makes SDC buggies fast, a Trivia contest, and of course, a recognition of the Buggy Class of 2020, who unfortunately were unable to race one last time. In addition to Virtual Raceday, Tom Wood also gave his annual History of Buggy presentation via Zoom Webinar on Sunday, April 19 at Noon.
- Workout Challenge. But Virtual Raceday wasn’t the only idea for keeping the Buggy community thriving during the stay-at-home period. CIA has, for a number of years, conducted a workout challenge among current students and alumni from the organization in Buggy downtimes (such as the summer months). Once Raceday 2020 was officially cancelled though, they decided to open up the competition to the full Buggy community. CIA Chair Andrea Sipos organized the event – a 21 day Workout Challenge, in which teams received points based on length of time exercising, number of squats performed, number of push-ups performed, and for workout selfies taken. Workout teams were organized based on the participants’ current organizations, with competing alumni flying the banner of the BAA. Each team had a number of participants ranging from 2-6 (with scores ultimately being normalized to 5 team members). In total, 17 teams participated, including students and alumni representing AEPi, Apex, the BAA, CIA, DG, Fringe, PhiDelt, SDC, SigEp, and Sweepstakes (certain organizations had more than 1 team competing). The final awards, announced during the Spring Carnival 2020 Awards Ceremony, were:
- Most Squats & Push-Ups (Combined): Carl Young (12,150)
- Best Selfie: (1) Isabel Murdock – CIA 4; (2) Sarah Connor – Fringe 1; (3) Andrea Sipos – CIA 1
- Team Winners: (1) SigEp – 1,114 Points; (2) CIA 1 – 1,041 Points; (3) Sweepstakes – 689 Points
- Coloring Contest. The Raceday Workout Challenge was completely organized and run by the students, but CMU had their own ideas for a stay-at-home Buggy challenge. Their competition was a Buggy Coloring Contest. CMU had a drawing of the CMU Mascot, Scotty, pushing a buggy and asked anyone – students, alumni, and children – to submit their best drawings. A number of people did, and the results as announced during the Spring Carnival 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony, were:
- Alumni Semifinalist: Melina Castillo; (Honorable Mention) Justin Peng
- Student Semifinalist: Lisa Yeung
- Child Semifinalist: Dina Simkov
- Grand Prize: Yuchen Dai
- Halloween Costumes. Even though Raceday 2020 was cancelled early in the Spring Semester, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have stories from rolls. In fact, CIA gave us quite the laugh throughout the Fall semester. On October 19, CIA appeared to be getting in the Halloween spirit early, as most of their buggies came out in costume. Icarus showed up with a flower crown and a blanket/toga, while Aurora celebrated its French heritage(?) by sporting a beret and a French flag. The winning costume of the day, however, belonged to Tempest, who dressed up as…Fringe’s Bumper! The buggy went by “Bempest” for the day. CIA expanded their buggy roster the following week, as Icarus bought a new costume and came out dressed as…Apex’s Firefly! For the actual Halloween weekend, on November 2-3, CIA brought out one more “new” buggy, as Emperor showed up on the course sporting a costume looking a lot like Spirit’s Seraph (though the dots on Emperor’s costume didn’t have quite the same staying power as Seraph’s dots). But for Halloween weekend, CIA wasn’t the only team in costume. Apex had costumes for both their pushers and buggies, as Solaris added wings and Firefly entered a phone booth to become…Superfly! The Fringe buggies also sported “half-costumes”, as each of their buggies went two-faced. One side was their own paint job, while the other half had a costume of a different Fringe buggy. The left side of Boson had on a Blind Faith costume (“Bofaith”), Bumper donned a Boson split (“Bumson”), Blind Faith had its left side look like Bumper (“Blumper”)…and Blueshift had a mural added to depict the Pittsburgh city bus that fell partially into a sinkhole (“Bluebus”). Even SDC got into the action, with Vanity sporting polka dots and Bane dressed as the devil. See some of the photos down below.
- Motors? We Don’t Need No Stinking Motors. The story of the Fall semester seemed to be motorized vehicles. There were a couple of miscommunications early in the semester that led to some troubling moments. During the third day of rolls on Sunday, October 6, SDC’s Bane had an incident in which it spun in the Chute. The driver was cleared by EMS and continued on being pushed up the back hills, but the next buggies were accidentally given the all clear while the SDC follow car and Safety Chair vehicle were both still in the Chute. Thankfully, the next buggies were bagged and were traveling slow enough to avoid the cars. The following weekend, Sunday, October 13, SigEp had a miscommunication with their follow car driver when Barracuda spun and hit the curb near the Westinghouse Pond. The follow car didn’t notice the incident and kept driving, leading to some confusion as a follow car was seen with no buggy. The most troublesome incident, however, came courtesy of a non-buggy-related car on Saturday, November 2. An Uber driver went to drop off a passenger at Phipps Conservatory, and decided that the barricades were for everyone other than him. He went around the barricades and drove up to the entrance to Phipps, just as SigEp and DG were coming down the freeroll in a joint roll. SigEp’s Hydra was first and thankfully spotted the car, making the decision to get out of the way and turn right at the Monument before hitting the brakes. DG’s Brazen was next and managed to see the car, coming to a stop near the transition flag. EMS used their vehicle to stop the car until Pittsburgh Police arrived, but the driver was not ticketed. As if that wasn’t enough, Sunday, November 3 had plenty of car action. 2 cars managed to get out from the Scaife Hall entrance onto the course going towards the Chute during an Apex roll, but Sweepstakes got the cars off the course and the Apex buggies were stopped at the flags before any issues could arise. Later, in between rolls, a person working at Skibo Gym decided that they needed to get through the course, so they drove up the sidewalk around the Panther Hollow Bridge barricades up to the top of the hill, getting some angry reactions from the Buggy community.
- Mini-Raceday. We may not have had a Raceday 2020, but we did have a Mini-Raceday! On Sunday, November 10, 8 teams faced off on Mini-Raceday, with times split between Men’s and Women’s teams, with wins awarded to the fastest Men’s back hills, fastest Women’s back hills, and fastest freeroll. Fastest freeroll belonged to Fringe’s Blind Faith, in 55.7 seconds. Fastest Men’s back hills went to SDC, who were pushing Bane. Fastest Women’s back hills was taken by Spirit, pushing Seraph.
- 2020 Photos. Below are some of the Halloween photos from the 2019-2020 school year:
- 100 Years of Buggy History. One final content idea that the BAA to help celebrate Buggy100 had was the creation of a new series on cmubuggy.org entitled “100 Years of Buggy History”. The series launched on September 19, 2019, and continued to run weekly through today, each time covering 1-5 years of Buggy History. The purpose of the series was to…wait – you’re reading this series now! This bullet point could just be this whole series again! So trippy…