Shana Tova to those who celebrate! This weekend marked the start of not only Year 5784 on the Hebrew calendar, but Year 103 on the Buggy calendar! That’s right – We’re back for the 2023-2024 Buggy Season! And what a weekend it was. It was a mix of new and returning this weekend – new and returning students, new and returning teams, new and returning wildlife, and new and returning road hazards.

Some new wildlife: A wild Shelmet appears!

Some new wildlife: A wild Shelmet appears!

ApexMolotov, Scorch, SolarisFirefly, Solaris
CIAEmperor, Equinox, Kingfisher, RoadrunnerEmperor, Equinox, Roadrunner
FringeBaltic, BrimstoneBurnout
SpiritKingpin, SeraphInviscid, Kingpin, Seraph

Photos: Saturday Gallery (upload) / Sunday Gallery (upload)

General Observations:

  • One of the hot new topics for this year is the reinvention of Frew Street as a one-way street with parallel parking and a new bike lane. The bike lane comes with a new (temporary?) “curb” on the inner half of the road. The good news is that the “curb” placement doesn’t appear to be in the buggy line. But it’s something we’ll keep our eyes on throughout the year.

The new “Kwick-Curb” added to Frew Street

  • The nature of Pittsburgh couldn’t put a damper on first Rolls, even though it tried. Temperatures in the low 40s and fog on Saturday made things a little uncomfortable, but didn’t stop teams from rolling. The wildlife, however, did cause some delays. A rangale of deer on Flagstaff Hill made several attempts to cross the road on Saturday. At one point, a few of the deer were successful, but others were left behind – so the few that crossed had to come back to get the others, which led to some delayed rolls.

Why did the deer cross the road? To delay rolls.

  • Sunday had some drama on the outskirts of the Buggy course. While Fringe was getting ready to roll, a car approached the course from the top of Hill 2. The driver of the car got out and moved the barricades in order to drive around them and onto the course. Thankfully, no buggies were rolling at the time and the car was stopped before any harm was done (other than a delay). Correction: Fringe was rolling at the time, but the car was stopped before it could get too close.

I wonder what these pieces of wood are? Oh well, let me just move them out of my way so I can keep driving.

Team Observations:

  • Apex. Apex was out this weekend with 4 buggies spread out over both days. Scorch’s new driver began Saturday watching the more experienced drivers, but by the end of the day Molotov and Scorch had swapped places. It wasn’t just the first day for drivers and pushers though; mechanics can be new too. Prior to one roll, a mechanic dropped one of the buggies with the driver inside. The driver was okay physically, but we imagine they’ll probably have a word or two with that mechanic. On Sunday, Apex and radio club had a brief miscommunication where they thought one of their buggies had broken through barricades. However, it turns out it was just a controlled stop. But the buggy was unaffected and made it around the course without issue.

Apex, out early on Saturday with 2 “old” buggies and one old man.

  • CIA. CIA was out in full force this weekend, with a total of 48 rolls across 4 buggies. But there was some rust to be shaken off. During one roll on Saturday, a CIA flagger heard that there was a cyclist on the course and threw a stop flag. Two buggies (Roadrunner and Emperor) came to controlled stops, but it turns out the cyclist was near Hill 2 and nowhere near the buggies. The two buggies were cleared to continue and finished the course. Later on Saturday, we had our first (accidental) pass of the year, as Emperor, rolling last for CIA, was rolling faster than Roadrunner (rolling 3rd) and successfully passed the slower buggy in the Chute. Impressively, both of these buggies were being driven by new drivers – quite the way to start your buggy career. Sunday was slightly less successful, as Emperor spun out in the Chute after possibly cutting the turn too sharply. The driver was quickly cleared by EMS and rolls continued.

CIA, out in full force

  • Fringe. No news is good news for Fringe, especially since they’re bringing mostly new drivers to the course. They rolled for the first half of each day, wrapping up before the roll-arounds began, with their three newest buggies all seeing the course.

Go forth, Baltic. We salute you!

  • Frontier. With SAE appealing a suspension handled down by the University Disciplinary Committee over the summer, the members of SAE that joined and raced for Fringe in 2023 have decided to embark on a new Frontier. Yes, that’s right – we have a new independent on the course for 2023-2024! And it’s even more exciting to see an SAE buggy on Day 1 of Rolls, since over the past decade SAE had been more likely to wait until Truck Weekend to make their yearly debut on the course. Hopefully this is a sign of an enthusiastic new team, and the 4 mostly uneventful rolls they got on Saturday with returning driver Carleigh were more than Kenough for opening weekend. Though they may have been a little light on manpower, as they were missing catchers at the Finish Line (and may have forgotten to tell the Hill 5 pusher to slow down).

Barbie, powered by Kenergy

  • PiKA. Wait, PiKA’s not in the chart above, why do they get a bullet? Well, they might not have rolled, but they did briefly show up on Saturday. However, word on the street was that they might have gotten a little too excited about the start of Buggy, so to be safe hey ultimately decided to scratch before rolls began.

Since PiKA didn’t roll, enjoy this squirrel photo instead (see Spirit below)

  • SDC. Regrouping from last year, SDC is working their way back to full strength. They spent Saturday shadowing Apex, before bringing out Avarice with a new driver on Sunday. It wasn’t the cleanest day, as Avarice had two controlled stops on the day due to the driver’s helmet slipping. But they were able to get around the course with a solid group, and we’re looking forward to seeing if they can get back to their dominant ways this year.

Back in my day, sweepers and flaggers had to walk, uphill, both ways.

  • Spirit. The honor of first roll of the 2023-2024 school year belonged to Spirit, with 2 returning drivers rolling on Saturday and those two, plus one new driver, on Sunday. Seraph had a near run-in with a squirrel near Westinghouse Pond on one roll. No contact was made, but shortly after the incident a disembodied voice coming from the direction of the buggy was heard saying “oh my god! Oh, I hate that!” We feel you…

Seraph completes the first roll of 2023-2024

Lastly, WE NEED YOUR HELP! We don’t currently have a Rolls Reporter, so your humble BAA Archivist is putting these reports together. But I live in California, not Pittsburgh, so I have no idea what is happening at rolls. But if you are in Pittsburgh, whether you’re an alum or a current student, we would LOVE (a.k.a please please please please please) for you to help us by taking notes and/or photos/videos from Rolls. We’ve got a sign-up list that you can fill out here – if we can get 8 people to sign up for 2 days each (just 2 days this entire semester!), we can have every day covered. Which would help us avoid the dreaded “we don’t know anything that happened” type of comments in future Rolls Reports (ed. note: or multiple corrections made after posting)! And even if you haven’t signed up but still find yourself on the course, we welcome all submissions – the more the better! Even if it’s just information for your own org, we’d love to hear whatever the most notable thing(s) were from your day of Rolls. We’ll take info via email, Discord, the notes sheet, or any other way you want to provide it. And if you want to be the actual Rolls Reporter, contact the BAA so that I don’t have to do this anymore

HUGE shoutouts to E. Forney, Rob S., and Lewis for the help this week.