Spring Carnival is just two short weeks away. The weather is getting warmer, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and large groups of people are gathering at odd hours of the weekend to send a small woman speeding down Schenley Drive in a torpedo-shaped vehicle. Yes, that last part is legal. No, they’re not insane. The sport is called Buggy, and it’s definitely one of the most unique extracurriculars in which Carnegie Mellon students choose to participate. What’s that you say — you’ve never heard of Buggy? That is precisely the reason I felt obliged to write this article.
Buggy is a long-standing Carnegie Mellon tradition, dating back to the 1920s. The easiest way to describe it is a combination of a soap-box derby and a relay race. Each buggy contains a petite driver who can steer and brake, and has a pusher who propels the buggy up the hill. Buggies start at the bottom of Tech Street. Near the top of the hill, the pusher passes the buggy to another pusher. They try to transfer all of their momentum to the buggy, sending it careening down Schenley Drive. Drivers roll freely to the bottom, where they make a sharp right turn onto Frew Street. Around Scaife Hall, another pusher “catches” the buggy to push it up this hill. The buggy will pass through the hands of two more pushers before reaching the finish line, and the fastest buggy around the course wins! Sound like fun? That’s because it is.
As chairman of Carnegie Involvement Association (CIA), an independent Buggy team, I have the privilege of experiencing the thrilling enthusiasm felt by all participants of buggy. Many team members spend large fractions of their free time building new buggies or preparing to race. Teams are also willing to wake up extremely early on Saturdays and Sundays in the spring and fall so that they can practice racing. Thousands of hours of preparation go into an intense two minutes of actual racing. So you can imagine my bewilderment when I hear one of my classmates say, “Buggy? What’s that?”
This article is my address to the campus community on behalf of all those who are passionate about Buggy. Now that you know about Buggy, come out to support the teams on April 17 and 18. You’ll be participating in a campus tradition and witnessing an event that can be seen nowhere else in the world! Races start at 9 a.m. and conclude at noon. It might be early, but turn on your alarm clock and head out to the Tech/Schenley/Frew loop on Friday and Saturday mornings during Carnival.