Upsets incite excitement at this year’s Buggy
On Friday morning, U-Hauls, mechanics, drivers, and fans overtook Tech and Frew Streets as Buggy madness began. After months of early hours for the 13 organizations involved, the buggies were finally revealed and put to the ultimate test.
Participating groups included Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), Beta Theta Pi (Beta), the Carnegie Involvement Association (CIA), Fringe, Kappa Delta Rho (KDR), Phi Kappa Theta (PhiKap), Pi Kappa Alpha (PiKA), Pioneers, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), Sigma Nu (SigNu), Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp), Spirit, and Student Dormitory Council (SDC).
This year’s race was on a day with amazing weather, had large crowds, and had a clear sense of anticipation lurking in the air.
“I had never seen Buggy and I was just really amazed at how intense everything was, especially at the end,” said Karisa Williams, a first-year materials science and biomedical engineering double major and pusher for Fringe's Women's B team.
Williams noted the excitement of the crowd, saying that many of her friends were already talking about plans to push or drive for organizations next year. This year was not without some major surprises, however. Despite a seven-year record of winning the men’s race, PiKA could not pull it off again.
Friday’s events left PiKA Men's A Team's buggy Chimera in sixth place with a time of 2:10.50, dramatically slower than PiKA’s all-time record from the year before, 2:04.35. This disappointment came with a 2:30.20 for the Men's C team and a disqualification for the Men's B team when the buggy spun out and hit hay bales in the Chute (the fastest point on the course), and had to cross the finish line dragged by a truck.
PiKA was not the only organization's buggy to get disqualified on the first day — there were multiple disqualifications. Beta’s Problem Child was disqualified for a fire safety violation in the team’s truck, one of KDR’s teams was disqualified for a missing pusher, and Fringe’s Men’s D team was disqualified for not having the buggy, Brazen, at the start line ten seconds before the start of the race.
“This was the year of upsets,” said Amanda Sturges, a senior business administration and social and decision sciences major. Sturges said that she could feel the surprise in the air and see it on people’s faces.
PiKA's Men's A Team did step it up in the second day of competition, however — but it was not enough. The team finished with a final time of 2:07.58 after a re-roll caused by interference with SigNu flags in the chute, putting them in third place.
Second place in the men’s competition went to Fringe's A Team, who finished the course at 2:07.25, just barely beating out PiKA's Men's A Team. Fringe's Men's A Team improved their time with a re-roll caused by a broken gun that had given the team two false starts and traumatized the pushers and drivers.
Before both men's re-rolls, PiKA had been in second place with Fringe in third place. Although both teams improved their times with their re-rolls, they switched the order.
“It’s really weird that there were two re-rolls on the second day of competition,” Williams said.
Williams said that re-rolls on the second day are very hard to get and the fact that two organizations got them was a big surprise.
SDC's Men's A Team was the clear winner of the men’s race, setting a new course record of 2:03.26. Their new buggy, Malice, was painted solid black and was driven by three-time driver Michelle Mirabella, a junior professional writing major and voice minor.
While SDC's Men's A Team placed first, two of SDC’s other men’s teams — B and C — also made it to the finals round with times of 2:08.28 and 2:15.34, respectively.
SDC was the leader in an extremely fast finals round with even the slowest finals team, SigNu A, coming in at 2:16.90.
SDC’s domination was echoed in the women’s races, which happened earlier in the day. Mirabella drove SDC’s Malice to claim the women’s title. Coming in at 2:25.76, the buggy shattered last year’s course record of 2:28.84.
The top three teams in the women’s races were rounded out with PiKA's Women's A Team's Chimera at 2:31.17 and SigEp Women's A Team's Barracuda at 2:33.89. Chimera was driven by Melissa Lee, a senior biological sciences major, who has been driving for PiKA since her first year at Carnegie Mellon.
“I think that the records’ being broken with such amazing times was definitely surprising to a lot of people,” Williams said.
This year’s races included SAE, who has not raced Buggy since 2003, and Beta, who took a year off last year to push for Fringe's Men's A Team.
Among the older participating organizations, some showed great improvement.
“There were a bunch of teams that all of a sudden had risen out and had good drivers and pushers,” said Dana Weinstein, a sophomore business administration major and driver for Fringe's Women's B and Men's D teams. “Everyone was competing this year and racing for first place.”
SigEp in particular showed great strides. They improved their Men’s A time from 2:15.19 to an impressive 2:08.61, less than a second slower than PiKA's Men's A team, putting them in fifth place. In breaking through the sub-2:10 line, SigEp really showed itself as a Buggy force. It proved itself even more in the women’s race, bettering its A time from 3:10.95 to 2:33.89, giving it its third-place finish. Both teams drove the new blue buggy Barracuda, which placed third in the design competition.
KDR also showed itself quite well. It performed solidly in both the men’s and women’s races, making it to the finals and coming in at seventh and ninth, respectively. Its new bright blue buggy, Polaris, followed in the “P” naming trend of all their buggies and placed second in the design competition.
Fringe took first place in the design competition with Bedlam, its new black-with-blue-stripes buggy.
The rest of the buggy awards included Chairman’s Choice, awarded to AEPi; People’s Design Choice to KDR’s Polaris; Spirit of Buggy to Pioneers; the T-shirt award to Spirit; and King and Queen of the Hill to Spirit A and PiKA A, respectively.
“Getting up at night and going to rolls can be tiring,” Williams said. “But on race day, everything comes together, and it’s well worth it.”
This year’s Buggy competition was the first one that was run with the help of the Carnegie Mellon Buggy Alumni Association, a group started in the summer of 2008 to preserve the history of Buggy, connect with alumni, and further promote undergraduate participation.
The association provided race day guides with pictures of all the buggies and a schedule of events, and invited an alumnus to serve as a commentator on the cmuTV webcast. They plan to continue to work with Alumni Relations as well as reach out to first-years in explaining Buggy and telling them how to get involved.
This year’s competition included 34 buggies. Preparation has already begun for next year.