SDC teams dominate 99th annual Buggy competition

Credit: Neethi Jayachandran/ Credit: Neethi Jayachandran/

Every year, Carnegie Mellon University’s Spring Carnival features many exciting events, from the creativity of Booth at Midway to the bright colors of Holi on the Mall. One event that stands above the rest as a true year-round event is Sweepstakes, better known as Buggy.

The talented and experienced women’s and men’s teams from the Student Dormitory Council (SDC) dominated the field, as they have for the past several years. While neither the men’s or women’s teams broke any records that were set in last year’s races, the day was still filled with fun and drama.

The 99th annual Buggy races were held on Friday and Saturday on the campus’s 0.84-mile race course starting at Tech and Frew Streets. Buggy refers to the compact unmotorized vehicle that holds a driver, and is pushed across the mainly uphill track by five different pushers, a relay race of sorts where the buggy is the baton.

After months of engineering a sleek, fast buggy and training early in the morning, the teams raced in the preliminary heats on Friday. On the women’s side, three teams from SDC, three from Fringe, two from Carnegie Involvement Association (CIA), one from Pi Kappa Alpha (PiKA), and one from SPIRIT qualified for the 10-team final.

Teams SDC B and Fringe C kicked off the women’s finals in the first heat. SDC B quickly moved ahead on Hill 1, and built on the lead throughout the race. They finished with a time of 2:37.49, nearly 15 seconds ahead of Fringe C’s 2:52.16 time, and good enough for fourth place.

Another team from SDC, SDC C, faced off against Fringe A in the next race. Fringe A established a quick lead moving in to the free roll, the downhill section in the middle of the race when the driver in the buggy steers without help from pushers. Fringe A’s final time of 2:38.87 was slower than their preliminary time on Day 1, but was still enough to beat SDC C’s time of 2:56.95.

The third race of the day featured two teams from the same organization, CIA A and CIA B. The race began close on Hills 1 and 2, but CIA A pulled away in later sections. While CIA A’s 2:36.36 time was half a second slower than their preliminary time, CIA B’s 2:44.84 finals time shaved off nearly four seconds from their preliminary time.

Racing against Fringe B, PiKA A got off to a hot start with a big push on Hill 1. Some shaky transitions slowed them down, allowing Fringe B to make up some ground in one of the closer races of the day. PiKA A finished in 2:35.01, slower than in the preliminary races, and Fringe B crossed the line in 2:39.77, over three seconds faster than their previous time.

In the final race of the women’s competition, SDC A looked to defend their win from 2017’s Sweepstakes. While the race was more SDC A against its own record, SPIRIT A challenged them, staying with SDC A in Hill 1, before falling behind in the transition into Hill 2. SDC A won the competition with a time of 2:23.60, over 11 seconds faster than second-place finisher PiKA A. SPIRIT A finished in 2:39.06, fast enough to make the six-team podium.

In the men’s competition, two teams from SDC, two teams from CIA, two teams from Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp), two teams from PiKA, one team from Fringe, and one team from Apex qualified for the 10-team final, while four teams, one from Apex, SPIRIT, SDC, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) each, competed in solo re-rolls down the track.

Fringe B and SigEp C participated in the first race of Saturday’s men’s finals. Fringe B quickly made separation from SigEp C, and finished in 2:15.53, a second faster than their preliminary time. Unfortunately, SigEp C’s fifth and final pusher suffered a leg injury on Hill 5, struggling but managing to finish the race in 2:39.51.

In their race, both CIA A and PiKA B were very strong on the first two hills, and stayed very close in their pushes into the free roll. CIA A took the inside line of the roll, forcing PiKA B to let off speed to prevent contact. Though PiKA B made up some ground at Hill 4, CIA A finished the race first in 2:12.96, with PiKA B following with a great time of 2:17.30, over four seconds faster than their preliminary time.

SDC B and CIA B competed in the next race. CIA B won Hill 1, but a small stumble in the transition to Hill 2 cost them the lead. The SDC B pushers gained a large lead in the final three hills to finish in 2:12.77. CIA B finished in 2:16.45.

The penultimate race of the event had the most dramatic moment of the races. Racing against Apex A, PiKA A pulled ahead on Hill 1, but spun out and hit the hay in the free roll. While they did not finish, Apex A crossed the line in 2:20.61.

Like in the women’s competition, the final race was less about the two teams racing at the same time and more about SDC A racing against its own records. SigEp A finished in 2:14.69, over three seconds faster than their preliminary time and good for fourth place, but the real show was SDC A.

At every section, SDC A gained speed and eventually finished in 2:03.17, short of the record time 2:02.16 set last year, but more than enough to win the team’s seventh consecutive Sweepstakes championship.

The final results of the competition were not surprising, but the fun and excitement of Buggy remains each year, as members of the Carnegie Mellon community, both current and from the past, come to watch a staple in the university’s history and an integral part of its community.