Buggy: A Look Into History
Apr 17, 2017
Ah, Buggy. Why do we come together as a university to shove short people in small spaces? How did we get from rolling shopping carts down a hill to the hyper engineered fiberglass vehicles we know and love today? The Tartan went on a mission to find out.
Buggy was founded in 1920, and became an integral part of the Carnival festivities, which began in 1914. Buggy, formally known as Sweepstakes, brings together organizations from around campus to race on Tech Street, the road between campus and Flagstaff Hill. There are currently eleven active buggy organizations around campus. Per race, each team consists of five pushers and one driver.
With buggy being around for almost a century now, there have been dramatic changes in the designs of the vehicles, the rules of the race, and the spirit that surrounds it. Here are some interesting historical moments in buggy history:
- The races were originally limited to fraternal organizations, but in the 1950s, men’s dorms began to participate as well. Women entered once in 1925, but only started consistent entry in 1979.
- Two wheeled buggies became popular in the 1960’s, with Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Tau Delta Phi leading the movement.
- Up until 1981, all winning drivers were male.
- An accident during practice in 1971 brought about some of the stringent safety rules that we have today.
- Delta Gamma was the first organization to launch a fully covered buggy, but the design was unstable and wrecked both in practice and in while racing. It was soon outlawed. Rumor has it that the buggy was stolen after its last race in 1988.
- The rules of the competition were completely rewritten after a fire in a Fraternity truck in 1986.
As the event evolved, so have the teams. Here are some that have shined endured throughout history:
- Prior to World War II, Kappa Sigma, a currently inactive team, was the top team on the track. Beta Theta Pi, also inactive, was a “distant second.”
- Delta Tau Delta (DTD) conquered six out of seven years post-World War II.
- The brothers of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) brought an impressive streak after DTD, claiming victory nine out of ten years between 1953 and 1962.
- CIA became the first non-Greek organization to win sweepstakes in 1981.
- In recent history, SDC has taken six titles in the last eight men’s races, and seven in the last ten for women’s.
- Pi Kappa Alpha (PiKA) is overall one of the most successful buggy teams in CMU history, with a monumental 26 wins in the men’s division and 11 in the women’s.
- SDC holds the current record for time, with a whopping 2:02.49 in the men’s category, set during the 2016 season.
1. Who broke PiKA’s record of 2:08.67 in 1988?
2. Who broke SPIRIT's 1988 record in 2008?
3. How did the Chute flaggers come into being?
4. Racers used to practice clandestinely at night. Some late night altercations led to University-sponsored Sunday freeroll practices. What year did that occur?
5. What was the first year of Compubookie?
6. Who was the first Safety Chairman and what organization did he represent?
1. PiKA question was the two wheeled DU Buggy King Eider with a time of 2:08.5. Spirit ran a 2:07.4 later in the day. On the 2nd day they lowered the record to 2:06.2 – that record stood until 2008.
2. SDC with a time of 2:05.55. PiKA would break the record second day with a time of 2:04.35 to SDC’s time of 2:04.50.
3. The ATO Golden Goose had limited vision so that ATO placed a young girl with a handkerchief on the curb entering the turn to signal the driver.
4. 1967 was the first organized University Sponsored freerolls! 50 years ago.
5. 1974 was the first time Compubookie appeared in The Tartan.
6. The first Safety Chairman in 1972 was Don Dietrich from Phi Kappa Theta.
For more information, visit cmubuggy.org