a Sweepstakes Journal
lies, rumors, and observations from the embittered side of buggy

Comments? Feedback? Want to smear another organization? Send mail to leg+@andrew.cmu.edu. Sources will be kept confidential unless otherwise requested.

raceday saturday

beta dqs a winner

The Beta women put in an impressive time of 2:41. It was easily the fastest time of the day and beat out Fringe by over three and a half seconds.

Sadly, Beta failed their drop test by not being able to stop a second time. This doesn't auger well for the safety of their driver. Beta's excuse? They thought the race was going to be starting sooner and their pneumatic brakes leak and don't last longer than five minutes or so. Scary.

The pushers should be pissed, since they obviously aren't the mechanics nor are they even allowed to be mechanics. At the very least I hope there were some mighty cold beds around their house.

speaking of beta anger

According to WRCT, the Fringe Hill 1 pusher had an ugly nose bandage on. Why? Because he was the passerby that the Beta president punched as reported in this Tartan article.

I'm not sure I understand what a pusher was doing out at 2 am for a "serious" team.

spinner spirit

Only a single spin today: Spirit women B. A standard sort of accident: the buggy just kept turning and hit in the inside haybales. A pretty boring accident.

"faster faster faster"

Anyone who has ever watched lead truck raceday tapes constantly hears people calling out "faster" and "slower". That's the sound of the people in the back of the pickup truck yelling at the driver to speed up or slow down so that the lead buggy doesn't hit the truck.

Nothing could possibly go wrong. Well, nothing except the obvious, which happened to PiKA women A. The buggy skittered so close in the chute approaching Scaife Hall that the driver looked like she was trying to decide which side to pass on.

pika pining for last year's women

Speaking of PiKA women A: what's up with their performance? They even had a reroll and still didn't break into the top 3. Did they all move to Beta?

i want my missing seconds

Somehow CIA men A had a time well under 2:20 "unofficially" and a time well over 2:20 "officially", dropping them several places. 2 seconds is a long time; a very large difference between timings. This is worrying: are all of the times this uncertain?

Some people may recall the movie Better Off Dead with the homicidal paper boy demanding two dollars. I want to start bicycling after Janice demanding my two seconds.

backwards on hill 3

SAE went so slow, they were going backwards on hill 3. Well, they would've if their driver didn't hold the brakes. One hopes their buggy did so poorly because of a blown tire or other type failure.

raceday friday


sun feb 23

safety tartan style

The Tartan's crack reporting has uncovered what careful readers of this page have known for some time: buggy has accidents! Luckily, the Tartan notes that there are "over 3,000 words of safety regulations". I'm sure that will be a real comfort to the next victim.

The Tartan could have done an interesting article mentioning some of the very real risks involved in driving buggy. Instead, they managed to come up with a random quote from a non-buggy person.

"It just doesn't seem very controlled. It definitely doesn't seem safe," said Jeneca Rangos, a junior BHA major, who has never driven for buggy and says she never would.
A little research would have unearthed the SDC accident a couple of years ago, resulting in two fractured vertebrate. Or maybe some basic math: I'll leave it as an excercise for the reader to calculate the "G" forces on a driver experiencing a 30-mph crash. Assume uniform deacceleration from 30-mph to 0-mph in 2 feet. (Anyone know any buggies that can actually deform two feet?) Then go read about aircraft ejection seats.

sat feb 22

snow melt, rain. If there's not rolls tomorrow (hugely probable) I will write about the Tartan article.

fri feb 21

I was all set to watch buggies crash into snowbanks during capes today, but obviously someone decided that it might be "dangerous". Sure, the sidewalk was wet and it was still raining lightly. You know what's really dangerous? Going 40 mph an inch off the ground!

thu feb 20

caping secrets

Observed: an inhabitant of Cyert Hall being forcefully diverted (putting it delicately) by members of the PhiKap buggy program from the passage through the Purnell Center. It would be cute if they didn't have standard forward trike buggies—and have enough accidents that anyone interested in seeing details already has.

Surprisingly, I understand that PhiKap's capes went without incident today.

SDC espionage

I always thought I was stupid for watching capes. Some people are evidentally taking it way too seriously. Multiple sources reported to me that SDC was out with a video camera recording capes. They were even out for an after-dark CIA caping session!

Hopefully, as a public service, SDC will summarize their findings to assocs.sweepstakes. I'm particularly interested in some of the more difficult things to see that the recordings should help with: average number of wheels, average number of pushbars, and average number of brain cells.

Then again, perhaps we should take this as an admission from SDC that other organizations know more than they do.

we want sparks!

I saw a PiKA cape test today. Does anyone else wish for the days that their cape tests created visible sparks?

committee chairs buggy-o-rama

The most bizarre sight today was watching the Sweepstakes Chair fail a cape test. Evidentally the committee chair troika has their heart set on an exhibition heat: Janice driving a Fringe buggy, Carla a Pioneers one, and Brooke in CIA's buggy-that-just-won't-die, Stealth.

Janice's first cape failed when she turned the buggy to the left while braking. The second attempt was successful.

sun feb 16

The Man claims there's a "Special Olympics Basketball Tournament" today, thus no buggy rolls. I suspect it's an evil conspiracy to prevent early morning stupidity.

sat feb 15

Not a single cape test was done by this morning, the "first day of spring rolls". Well, maybe some other day. Rolls were cancelled on Thursday.

sat nov 23

rain. or maybe snow.

tue nov 19

sun nov 17

rain. The Sweepstakes chair is being unusually sane by predicting that rolls won't happen earlier rather than later. Definitely a good idea for the fall semester.

sat nov 16


tue nov 12

a real news source

The Tartan's Crime and Incident report has confirmed the cause of the PhiKap crash: the driver's vision was obstructed when her headband fell over her eyes. I wonder why the driver didn't just slow down and stop without turning. Then again, driving a buggy blind can't be the easiest thing in the world. (Interestingly, the timestamps in the column appear to be an hour off.)

Interestingly, I have some preliminary reports that the Tartan is preparing to do an article on "buggy safety" for next week's issue. Expect coverage on their coverage right here.

sun nov 10

a classic buggy day

Today had all the markings of a classic buggy day. Reasonably nice weather, high winds, lots of leaves, and it was starting to drizzle.

We all had a lot of standing around to look forward to until the Sweepstakes Chair nastily intervened. She cancelled rolls after a mere 10 minutes of waiting for the rain to die! Whatever happened to driving the course dry? Whatever happened to total craziness? The weather, natural, retaliated by easing off (but it was a lost cause and the right decision was made).

The day was so classic that most organizations weren't dedicated (read: stupid) enough to show up. Only SigNu, PiKA, PhiKap, CIA, Fringe, and Pioneers were out. Each organization got in two rolls before rain cancelled the show.

CIA's thumb

With so few rolls, one could hope that the day would be gotten through without an injury. One could think that, if all 13 rolls (PiKA got 3) went without incident, there'd be no way for someone to get hurt, right?

CIA, seeing that this boring outcome was possible, struck back with a vengeance. Their target was one of their driver's thumbs, which got jammed in somewhere in their front wheel and steering. (Now we know why reverse trike buggies are so popular: they're clearly safer!)

The driver suffered a cut and a stress fracture.

sat nov 9

barricade ballet

I arrived at the buggy course to be informed that rolls had not yet started, for the Dance of the Lonely Barricade had not yet finished. Evidentally a highly particular thief stole the Sweepstakes barricades (you know, those wooden sawhorses that block roads) during the week.

Rolls started only slightly late. One knowledgeable observer pointed out to me that the substitution of cars for barricades at the chute probably wasn't the safest maneuver: buggies can go through barricades (perhaps losing a pushbar), but Fringe proved not too long ago that buggies can't go through cars.

who wants to copy your line, anyway?

PhiKap is working on a way to keep secret one of the hardest things to keep secret: a buggy's line. This is something that even PiKA has not been successful at hiding. (Despite PiKA's lame attempts at forbidding photography, we all have tapes and photos.) But PhiKap has something new that I hope won't be emulated by other organizations: disguising their line by having their driver wiggle and waggle her way around the course. Something has to be wrong with their steering.

no officer, it's fine

Another early highlight of rolls early on was the police motorcycle that decided to visit the chute and drive through the barricades, stopping right in the middle of the chute line (well, SDC's chute line—more on that later) when flaggers cried out their plea for it to stop.

The officer returned but seemed completely oblivious that there might be a safety issue here. But through sheer courage and determination, the flaggers courageously managed to get the motorcycle to choose an alternate route. No injuries were reported.

follow cars

Two BMWs today. SDC won most stylish with the Jake Bordens-mobile, a BMW convertible.

PiKA wins worst stench with their black monstrosity. The wake on their last roll left many nostrils twitching.

no luck for Fringe

Fringe works hard to get Bassketcase back out from Sunday's flip, and what happens? The driver makes a controlled drive along the outside haybales, probably disrupting some of their crucial garbage bag technology. (The garbage bags are used to cover up the unpainted carbon fiber. At one point Fringe used the comic section for this: I guess this is one of the prices we all pay for them becoming a serious organization.)

Interestingly, the buggy didn't miss a roll. I thought accidents required the buggy sit out the rest of the day, but I was (gasp!) wrong. According to, a safety inspection may be required, but no time penalties are applied, and merely requires an accident report be filed with the safety chair.

spin spin

Sometimes watching a buggy take the chute and you just know something is going to happen. Today it was PhiKap: they just wasn't turning enough and it was clear the buggy wasn't getting around the corner without something giving. Sure enough, they gave us a textbook spin: a 270 degree revolution coming to a stop perpendicular to their line. Didn't even touch a haybale.

worst driving

Bad driving was out in force again today. I'm going to single out two organizations because I simply don't have enough energy to write about it all.

Spirit had the most clueless drivers today. It's been a long time since I've seen two Spirit drivers drive in the same place, and today was no exception. There were buggies wiggling, buggies aiming for the inside haybales, buggies that didn't look like they wanted to turn, buggies they came around the chute corner and just kept turning, buggies in every which way.

I'm happy to report that they did seem to get a little better as the day went on: Spirit slowed their speed down (and rolled less buggies) and it did seem to help. Observers worried about getting hit by flying buggy parts will be relieved if Spirit keeps going slow until their drivers understand where they are.

Perhaps more disturbing was SDC. Their drivers were reasonably consistent so I'm forced to believe it's a conscious strategy on their part to turn as late and as sharp as possible. Somehow they've decided that sharp turns are better than long gradual ones (maybe they are?) and so they've instructed their drivers to just keep driving straight through the chute flag and hang a right turn at what feels like the last possible moment. SDC buggy after SDC buggy followed this line. Isn't this the sort of line that led to the SDC crash a couple of years ago? (Hint: yes.)

grazing SDC

Speaking of the bad instructions...

Everyone watching the chute thought it was destined to happen and, sure enough, something did (though not quite as spectacular as we might've thought).

After executing their trademark "J" turn just a trifle too late, the SDC driver grazed the haybales on the far side and, frightened by the towering bales, lunged to the other side of the road. She must've missed the inside curb by only a matter of inches. Perhaps the close call will convince SDC to reconsider their choices.


It was good to see Beta out at practice. Their buggy Beast was rolling reasonably well, but I always loved seeing the hammerheads out on the course.

attention attention

Will the organization that lost a piece of carbon fiber please claim it from the CIA chair? It is red in color and has a piece of red duct tape attached.

fri nov 8

More capes. PhiKap was out and had a totally uneventful cape. More exciting was SigEp's cape of a male driver, Andrew. The first attempt didn't stop in time; not a big deal with a brand new driver.

The second attempt was much more fun. Right at the brake line the driver did something spectacular: a 180, coming to rest on the grass next to the sidewalk.

The third attempt (after the mechanics finished wiping the mud and wet from the wheels) went smoothly.

mon nov 4

the peter room

The meeting started like so many CMU meetings: the people in charge debated what the current time was. Two different watches and a cell phone were compared.

Quickly things became somber. Yesterday was No Laughing Matter. Stern words were uttered. A new fine was announced: $30 for drivers not stopping for a yellow flag. (Would this be per yellow flag per driver? If so, I think Sweepstakes should buy a radar gun with the profits.)

More stern words. Spot safeties were threatened. If spot crashes haven't deterred people, do we think spot safeties will?

Stern advice was offered: don't push drivers beyond their capabilities. If people follow the advice religiously, many organizations might have to use square wheels.

sun nov 3

I didn't realize it yesterday, but it's Family Weekend this weekend. No wonder there was so much carnage: everyone wanted to show off for their parental units. Wouldn't it be easier to bring home an undesirable—perhaps someone with lots of piercings—than getting up at 4 am to jeopardize the lives of short women?


Somehow CIA managed to get Mirage back out there. I sure hope it's a new axle and not just duct taped back together.

does the chute flag mean go straight?

Weeks ago I wondered if drivers actually paid any attention to the chute flag. Today, SDC confirms the answer is "no". Their line today appeared to be "pass the chute flag, count to 3, and then turn right".

What's the theory behind this line? First we must assume that SDC's reasons for this line go beyond making sure the course flaggers are awake and prepared to dodge. Perhaps they're delaying going over the crest of the road until the last possible second? Or perhaps they just don't know what they're doing?

SigEp shows up

I'm always happy to see more organizations out. Today was the first day that SigEp decided to show up, carting both their buggies: the lopsided Genesis and their slightly more sane second attempt whose name escapes me.

Despite the introduction of Xootr wheels, SigEp's first roll with Genesis underwhelmed me. Well, it's early: there's hope for the laws of physics to change.

optimism is one thing

More exciting was SigEp's second roll, which was with their other buggy. The driver took a right turn just after the monument (not waiting for the chute flag) and seemed to be on a sure collision course with the curb. Luckily, the blazing 15 mph speed gave the driver plenty of time to recognize this, and she made a left turn to continue along Schenley Drive and then passed to the inside of the closer of the two grates in the chute.

Needless to say, this innovative line failed to give the driver sufficient speed to make it anywhere near hill 3. After jumping out and right before pushing, the person riding shotgun in SigEp's followcar was overheard to say "no, no, you did great!".

I wish SigEp's driver training would do a little better, though.

will that pushbar ever work?

CIA supplied another data point in the negative today, with their buggy Conquest failing to raise its pushbar on hill 3.

Sadder was how their chute flagger reacted: she showed the brake flag for the trailing buggy, Mirage, causing a full speed stop with matching fishtale. For those of you scoring at home, points for the driver for stopping and a penalty for the flagger for causing an unnecessary stop when the only possible problem was way up hill 3.


PhiKap managed several clean rolls before one of their drivers caused a good deal of excitement with what looked like a controlled turn to the right half-way between Schenley Drive and Scaife Hall. Examining the course map, we see that there's not actually a road there.

Sure enough, the buggy hit the curb, jumped the curb, and proceeded to hit a parking meter or possibly a tree. Why she turned there is unknown: possibly a vision problem, a seizure, or a space-time warp?

The driver appeared to go through the hatch (moving over the front wheel and interior windscreen, splitting the buggy above the outside windshield) and her helmet came flying off. So much for the new harness rules, which were inspired in part by, yes, you guessed it, PhiKap.

The driver has easily taken first in the injury contest with multiple lacerations on her face. She was removed from the buggy and carried to the followcar before CMU EMS arrived. EMS then put her on a backboard and she was transported via ambulance to the hospital. Reports indicate that she was released and is doing ok.

You know, drivers have to be crazy to drive. It's dangerous and we all know it. But drivers have to be stupid, too, if they're going to agree to drive for PhiKap.

just when we thought it was safe to roll

After the long stop for PhiKap, we got through one organization without incident. The usually reliable Fringe, trying to prove that they're as good as any fraternity, rolled two buggies and managed to crash them both.

Bassketcase was equipped with a camera on top—creating some footage I'd really love to see. It was going reasonably fast; way too fast for the wide line that she was taking, and the driver flipped the buggy trying to avoid the outside haybales. After a 1 foot slide on the side, she met the haybales anyway and slid another couple feet along the haybales before coming to a shuddering halt.

The camera went flying, and the right front wheel kept merrily spinning until a fringe alum finally put a stop to it.

The trailing Fringe buggy Bandit went through a stop flag (or two or four) and zoomed by the crash site before applying the brakes. (Why she wanted to stop then I guess I'll never know.) That buggy then did a 180 before coming to a halt by hitting the inside curb near where PhiKap had crashed.

The Bandit driver was unhurt; Bassketcase's driver looked to have a nasty cut on her upper lip but was otherwise unhurt.

a tale of two accidents

It's easy to think that we never learn, but I'd like to point out how much better the Fringe accident was handled than the PhiKap accident. Both accidents had the potential to cause serious harm; while PhiKap's was more head-on, the Fringe accident was going significantly faster.

In the Fringe case, a member of EMS was there while the driver was extracted from the buggy. While this delayed extraction while waiting for EMS to arrive, his presence didn't slow down the process much and hew added sanity and a calm voice to the proceedings. In the PhiKap case, the driver was removed before EMS arrived and without much thought for subtle injuries that might have been sustained—not because people didn't care, but because people didn't have the training or were worried about other things.

Here's a vote for Sweepstakes to arrange for EMS attendance at every practice so we don't even have the time delay excuse for not asking for their help.

sat nov 2

cold. but finally some amount of buggy.

committee chair optimism

Overheard something. I think it went something like "Nothing can possibly go wrong on my watch". Let's see how the day played out, shall we?

happy PiKA

PiKA must be happy having their new buggy out. If I recall, it was out one weekend late last semester and was never seen from again: they wisely decided to concentrate on winning and not on proving that their new buggy was the greatest ever. Remember Jackal's A team debut? Real smart. Too many teams build a new buggy and fall so much in love that they disregard the facts.

I've been told it's name is "Brimstone". It looks a little flatter than Zeus, perhaps inspired by a sting ray.

PhiKap goes for a new record: popped tires

Everyone's favorite organization, PhiKap, is at it again. First it was a popped tire on hill 4. Pretty funny, if you ask me, though I guess I'd be less amused if CIA succeeded in running into the stopped buggy.

More tragic, but crucial for PhiKap's positioning as the favorite for most popped tires in one buggy season (a record currently held by Spirit) was their double popped tire on the freeroll. First a rear tire, and then (perhaps upon application of the brakes?) a front tire went.

My new guess is that PhiKap's brakes consist of sharp needles. Or maybe their drivers are into sewing. Whatever, needles are involved.

Fringe slackers

Now, what are we to think when the largest and most active independent organization during the first freeroll practice in weeks shows up rolling only two buggies? Come on, I remember Fringe rolling two buggies with around 8 people!

The scoop? It's gotta be lazy drivers. Come on folks, you can party on Thursday night! The weather is no excuse: I'm sure no more than three toes and an ear were lost to frostbite today.

Sadly, no Wallaby today. I hope it's been fixed. If with two weekends off they still haven't gotten it up to snuff, one has to wonder how bad it really is.

follow cars are suppose to follow the buggies

I like to remind people that follow cars are not misnamed. They're named "follow cars" because they "follow" the buggies around the course. Spirit, that means that the cars travel in a buggy-wise direction (clockwise around the course).

Was their chute flagger so lonely that the follow car had to stroke their ego two rolls in a row? Stopping in the chute, backing up, and having tea is just a little goofy. Maybe you can get the flagger a nice Teddy bear. Don't stop the follow car in the middle of the freeroll unless a buggy stops in the middle of freeroll.

flapping in the wind

Observed: SDC's Sambuca with a half-off windshield on hill 5. I'd say use more duct tape, but I know you guys only believe in the pricier gaff tape. So use more gaff tape.

rolling slow slow slow

Today seemed slow. Similar to the sort of speed normally associated with glaciers—appropriate for the weather, I suppose, but buggy is suppose to be about racing. (That means going fast.)

Who did I see? I saw a slow Pioneers buggy. It was one of those dead drops where you can still see the buggy around the first transition about 3 minutes later. (You can do the whole course in under 3 minutes!)

SAE was going even slower. One roll, they apparently had their "pusher" (perhaps better termed a "walker") in the follow car. Thus, when the buggy got to the bottom of the hill—a process that needed several fortnights—there was a pause as the pusher put on his jacket. Then he tortoised the buggy up the hill, followed the whole way with a follow car with four-way flashers.

Advice: if you're going to walk your buggy up the hill (and that's ok with me), have your driver move to the side of the road. You don't need a follow car if you're just walking the buggy back up the hill.

But Spirit was going slowest: so slow that they stopped. This was either due to the frigid weather freezing their bearings, reversal of the neutron flow, or the driver's helmet falling over her eyes. You can try taping the helmet to the driver's back (drivers love duct tape in the hair!) but also try telling the driver that if she can't see, just stop. Don't try to get around the whole course going slower than I can walk.

When Spirit brought the buggy back up, it contained an awfully strange steering, yellow in color, with hints of black. Evidently, realizing they didn't have a blanket or t-shirt in the car, they got the next best thing: a parking bag to cover up their steering. I wonder what the huge secret is. My guess? A lawn mower.

speaking of lawn mowers

Today, CIA's Quasar was making loud clunking noises, especially when turning right. That's ok: there aren't too many right turns on the buggy course.

Rage may be the A-team buggy

But SDC's A-team buggy doesn't always have to be the first down the hill. At least, not when you've bagged that buggy and not the other two. It just slows everything down. Let's recall: unless you have a good reason, the fastest buggy (including the push) goes first, followed in speed order.

hill 5 is straight: or is it?

I thought hill 5 was straight. A Spirit driver taught me otherwise: right around the finish line they took a sharp left. The curb was scared.

Who needs half an axle?

And, finishing off the day with a bang (well, a loud crack) was CIA.

Sources say Mirage took the chute turn and just kept skidding to the outside, right into the outside haybales. It hit the bales with such force that the aluminum (none of these advanced materials for CIA, thank you!) snapped! The smaller piece (axle and outrigger wheel) went flying and embedded itself in a haybale behind the driver. The rest of the buggy, sans third wheel, quickly slid to a halt.

On the plus side: CIA's trailing two drivers stopped. (Good job!)

On the minus side: it's embarrassing to have, to quote one observer, a "severe mechanical failure".

The true cause of the crash? It's thought that the driver was just too virtuous, and God intended to introduce some sin. Sadly, the angel in charge misread the work order and saw "spin". Whatever the cause, it was agreed by most observers to be a spectacular crash.

sun oct 27

Halloween parties—and the end of daylight savings time.

sat oct 26


fri oct 25

so far so good

Update on who can damage their driver the most (perennial favorite: SDC). Fringe claims a bitten tongue (blood!) from the Wallaby spin. CIA has two drivers on crutches, but Frisbee and roller skating isn't exactly buggy. Any org with a better claim?

We should probably track pusher injuries as well. Many organizations compete in this field, and the injuries have varied from the mundane pulled hamstring to the exotic broken collarbone.

sun oct 20

mid-semester break.

it's a pity

Some of my best buggy memories come from poorly attended freerolls allowing lots of practice and forcing people to learn new things. It's too bad that both days have been cancelled, especially since the weather is only going to get colder.

sat oct 19

mid-semester break.

sun oct 13


sat oct 12

Wallaby spins on a crack

Fringe's Wallaby was the first accident today. From all accounts, it appears to be a fairly boring spin, though due to a novel cause: "a crack". Those nasty cracks, jumping out at buggy drivers and causing them to over-steer!

Before I get too much hate mail, I better say that I did hear other drivers complaining about this "crack" though, after freerolls, when I attempted to find this "crack" myself I saw nothing unusual about the road surface besides "asphalt" and "seams" and "cracks" that were there last "week" as "well".

For Fringe, this accident has an additional bonus: a well deserved overhaul for their newest buggy!

SAE's trial-by-driving training

I wish all organizations had the sort of confidence in their drivers that SAE clearly has. Their brand-new driver was all set to go down the hill sans bags or any other obvious aids until Sweepstakes unfortunately intervened. Luckily, Sweepstakes forgot to mention that it's usually customary to not push drivers on their first time down the hill, and so SAE went ahead and pushed.

I sense that this is a new avenue to explore for the University Disciplinary Committees: trial by buggy. "You still proclaim your innocence? You'll have to drive a buggy to prove it!"

will CIA's pushbar ever work?

Observed on hill 3: one blue buggy rolling backwards down the hill.

Kingpin flat tire

Another obvious stop was Spirit's pointy-buggy, Kingpin. This was a flat tire, probably caused by a police helicopter accidentally releasing a spike strip.

The more intriguing Spirit mechanical issue was a different buggy which sounded like, to quote one observer, "a bad lawn mower engine". This Spirit buggy used Xootr wheels, which are a hard, polyurethane wheel. The whisper circulating is that this wheel was flat: literally. Instead of a nice round wheel (recommended by 9 out of 10 buggy mechanics) Spirit had a mostly round wheel with one or more flat spots, possibly caused by a particularly impressive black line along the caping sidewalk. I guess it's another way of slowing down a buggy for a new driver.

SAE finds a new way to cut expenses

Walking towards me was a man holding what looked like a buggy pushbar with a no parking bag still attached. I guess I need a new prescription because when I got a little closer I realized it was just a stick with a bag taped on. Little did I realize that this was what constituted SAE's flag.

The rules specifically state that "NO organization may use a yellow colored flag for any purpose other than to indicate a problem ahead." It is a low budget solution, proving that you don't have to be as rich as SDC to do buggy.

PiKA spins and stops

The last accident of the day was actual on the last organization of the day: a rare spin for PiKA. This was especially surprising considering it was PiKA's most experienced driver (though it was her first roll of the day). Rumor has it that she was braking to avoid a bicycle, once again showing the wisdom of my policy of "don't try to avoid the idiots, just hit them".

PiKA, showing one of the reasons why everybody should be envious of them, had two trailing buggies: both being driven by new drivers judging from previous rolls. (At least one of them sported a bag earlier.) This didn't stop either of them from coming to a controlled stop at the second transition. Impressive.

first transition woes

One of the problems of watching the upper part of the course is you can see just how bad some of the driving on the buggy course really is. Either everyone assumes it's easy and no one bothers practicing, or drivers are just out to spook us spectators. You see all sorts of goofy things: from drivers scared of crossing the street (KDR today) to several drivers who apparently are intent on getting up close and personal with the curb.

Hint one: we call it the first transition because you're suppose to transition from one side of the road to the other. Really, your line won't be any better on the left hand side.

Hint two: I don't think there's an organization out there who's stated line ever involves driving directly for a curb. I certainly can't think of a good reason. If you're aimed at a curb, you're not going the right direction.

tue oct 8

I watched capes today. The only organization out was CIA. As you probably know, I was chair of CIA back in the days of massive incompetence. Back then the amount of time it would take us to do a single cape test could be measured on a calendar.

How times have changed. Today CIA is only slightly incompetent and improving daily. They proved it today by being one of the more efficient organizations I saw cape this year. They had Mirage out and did 3 different drivers in under 45 minutes. The first cape test they did the pusher got the buggy up into the 18 mph range and the buggy still stopped in under 30 feet (at 18 mph, a buggy is allowed 50 feet to stop).

I'm beginning to feel seriously old.

Random speculation on why Mirage was caping again: the brake cable was chewed through by giant killer cockroaches with big pointy teeth and had to be replaced. (Don't believe in giant killer cockroaches? You should spend more time on the C level of Margaret Morrison.)

sun oct 6


SDC has Addiction back out there. Impressive fixing speed.

catch that buggy

So freerolls are suppose to work with one organization rolling, and the next organization (the organization "up") waiting for radio club to announce that the last buggy and follow car have cleared the chute. At that point the Sweepstakes person running rolls gives the ok to the next organization. It worked that way yesterday. It worked that way the first 3 rotations around the roll order. PhiKap somehow manages to forget on the 7th roll of the year and their first buggy (complete with 2 bags) starts down the hill 20 seconds after the previous follow car.

The pusher (well, really, the releaser) looks kinda clueless when everyone shouts "no". A look of comprehension suddenly comes over his face and he dashes after the buggy—too late, it's gone. The slope after hill 2 is the steepest on the course. Even with two bags slowing it down, buggies accelerate fast.

The story gets better. The driver doesn't hear people yell brake—not unusual given how loud it can be rolling around a couple of inches off the ground. But then the driver goes through a reported three (three! 3!) stop flags. Oh well. I always suspected that drivers never actually pay any attention to the rest of us; I guess this is just proof. I wonder if they really pay attention to the chute flag or if they're just humoring us.

As it turns out, sources tell me that one of the stop flags the buggy drove through was from a different organization. Reports say that PhiKap's transition flagger was lacking a stop flag. Hopefully it was being used as a pillow or blanket or something useful; after all, if the rules don't require something we certainly wouldn't want to provide it.

sat oct 5

i always hated that haybale

SDC's newest buggy, Addiction, managed to hit the singularly irritating haybale, the one between the 2nd transition and the chute. I've always hated that haybale: for years I thought it was completely unnecessary, creating a greater hazard for drivers than the dip it was sitting in.

This year that haybale might just be necessary. The grate dip has turned into a gapping hole, one that presents a formidable challenge for a buggy wheel. SDC proved that it's bad news when their buggy hit it and then had apparent axle damage.

Not to worry, though. I'm sure SDC can afford another axle.

PhiKap goes around twice

You know, I really want to feel sorry for PhiKap. They've had many rough breaks over the last few years, ranging from a spinout off of hill 2 to a five second violation, and I don't want them to get discouraged. As much slack as I want to cut them, they always find a new thing to surprise me with. Years ago (or so I've been told) PhiKap was a real buggy powerhouse. I hope they'll regain that; until then, I guess I'll laugh at their mishaps.

According to, an organization with a buggy involved in an accident must submit an accident report before that buggy can be used again. Evidently PhiKap's chair needs another look at the rule book, since today PhiKap managed to get into two accidents with the same buggy! Bravo!

Now, PhiKap's buggies look similar enough that they might've gotten away with it. But if you're going to break the rules, try not to call attention to yourself with another accident. (This will make it much easier for all the other rule-breaking organizations to get away with their shenanigans.)

Also, Sweepstakes: shouldn't you have caught this at the top of the hill? This doesn't seem to bode well for catching people rolling buggies that didn't pass drop tests. Ok, ok, it's the first day of rolls.

The first accident was a crash near hill 2.

The second accident wasn't much of one: the buggy rolled to a stop in the chute before passing Scaife. Unfortunately for PhiKap, this was called in as an accident before the pusher got there. (If a buggy not making it to Scaife was always an accident, SigEp would have the worst safety record of any organization.) I guess this shows that broken parts rubbing against wheels really does have an effect on performance!

pre-rolls (week of sep 30)

capes capes capes

what's up with vision?

I've seen more cape test problems with the vision test this year then any year before. What's up with this? I thought everyone understood how to skooch their drivers towards the front of the buggy for the cape test so that the vision test is a piece of cake. Yet this year I've stood outside multiple buggies with drivers spending time contemplating whether that's one finger or three.

Maybe it's the fault of Sweepstakes: all women Sweepstakes leadership means shorter fingers?

But I prefer a different theory: people are stupider. I'm not sure if it's the drivers or the organizations, but someone has to work a little harder to ensure that the vision test is a breeze. Almost failing the vision test really isn't the sort of thing that shows you're at the forefront of buggy safety.

My theory is buoyed by one driver explanation on why she was having trouble with the vision test: she wasn't wearing her glasses. Look, you can wear contacts. You can get goggles that fit over glasses. You can get prescription goggles. This should be a no-brainer for chairman: if your driver needs glasses outside the buggy, your driver needs glasses inside the buggy.

pop tire pop

Cape season always brings the sound of buggies backfiring. Of course, since no one is willing to cheat to the level of engines, this must mean that tires are popping.

Unless you're Spirit. Somehow Spirit expected Sweepstakes to believe that it wasn't a tire popping when a loud "bang" was heard from the vicinity of their braking (breaking?) buggy. I've racked my brain for alternate explanations and the best I can come up with is "it was the driver's collarbone". Can anyone else help me out here?

Also in the tire blowout column was a marvelous performance by PhiKap. One cape, one blown tire. The buggy goes away for a while. The buggy comes back out. Next cape, another blown tire. Guys, maybe you should try making sure the brakes are touching the rims and not the tire? Just a hint.

whoa, Pegasus

Perhaps one of the most distressing failures I saw was watching Pegasus attempt to cape. Not only did Pioneers have repeated problems pushing the buggy up to speed (15 mph) but the buggy was also not stopping within the 35 feet allowed for a 15 mph shove. I can understand not shoving fast enough; I can understand not stopping fast enough; it's always impressive (or maybe scary?) when an organization combines the two.

sweepstakes committee elections

One from Fringe. One from CIA. One from Pioneers. Very interesting: the evil trinity of independents, the annoying organizations who you suspect would roll in sleet and tornados, stopped only by the difficulty of finding drivers just that crazy.

a Pioneers tale

Perhaps most surprising is the assistant chair, Carla from Pioneers. I always saw her as gung-ho about Pioneers and very addicted to working with her organization. Further investigation reveals turmoil in the Pioneers organization.

Pioneers has always been one of my favorites: somehow they never seem to be working as hard as the other independents nd then they consistently place well come race day. This is probably just a perception problem on my part: the fact that they consistently do well indicates that they're almost surely working as hard as everyone else, but I just like the idea that slackers can succeed.

Last year, Pioneers built Pegasus, a buggy that looks kinda like one of Fringe's new reverse-trike buggies. Pegasus looks a little bigger, maybe, but unmistakably Fringe-like. Why? Tomas Esterrich, a former Fringe mechanic (was he a co-head mechanic? I can't remember) who suddenly became a member of Pioneers at the start of last year after his falling out with Fringe the year before.

Tomas doesn't appear to be participating in Pioneers (or any buggy organization) this year. Sources say that the turmoil followed Tomas to Pioneers and was one of the factors that convinced Carla to head to service with Sweepstakes.