History of Buggy
The annual University-wide party we now call Carnival started in 1914, not long after Carnegie Tech was founded. It started as "May Day," and back then, school spirit events were were limited to individual schools: Applied Science, Applied Design, the Trade Schools, and the Women's School (later Margaret Morrison Carnegie College). By 1920, those events had merged and expanded into a cohesive celebration called Campus Week.
The first Campus Week saw the birth of one of the most unique and recognizable aspects of Carnival and Carnegie Mellon in general: Sweepstakes (then popularly called "BlitzBuggy" or just "Buggy"). The first buggy race started at 9:30 am on May 14, 1920, with what a witness called "a conglomeration of rain barrels with bicycle wheels, four wheeled orange crates, and three wheeled ash cans." The first few years saw the essence of Sweepstakes change rapidly. The original buggies were propelled by two-man teams composed of a pusher and a driver. Not long after the sport was invented, a pit stop was added to the course. All buggies were required to make pit stops, during which the team would do two things: first, switch the right and left rear wheels, and second, switch places themselves, so that the original pusher would drive for the second half of the course and vice versa. In 1926, the first multi-day buggy competition was held, using the time trials/finals system still in place today. That year, the buggy record was set at 3:22. In 1927, a fifth pusher was added to buggy teams; the following year, the course was altered to even up pushers' workloads.
Non-fraternal organizations first regularly entered Sweepstakes during the 1950s with the running of a buggy from the men's dorms - though to no avail as most of the decade was dominated by Alpha Tau Omega (ATO). Though ATO lost their presence on campus several years ago, it remains among the most dominant single organizations in Carnival history. ATO brothers earned the first-place cup in Sweepstakes every year from 1953 to 1962 except for 1959, and managed to take second place as well in both 1953 and 1955.
The 1980s were the decade of the independent organization in Carnival competition. Organizations like Pioneers quickly adapted to Carnival and were taking silvers by the end of their second and third years. The infancy of such organizations during the '70s prepared them for it, but CIA's record-setting buggy victory in 1981 - the first such win by a non-Greek organization - was nevertheless unexpected. Their pace and a four-year streak for CIA women's was followed by the coming of SPIRIT in 1987, which won its first Sweepstakes on account of weather canceling the three final heats, even though Beta's finals time was better than SPIRIT's preliminary. SPIRIT returned the next year to place with a time of 2:06.2, setting a record that stood for 20 years. PiKA broke the record in 2008 with a time of 2:04.35, which was quickly broken the following year. In 2009, SDC posted a time of 2:03.30, setting the new course record which stands to this day.