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What is buggy?

Good question. In short, Carnegie Mellon students form teams, then put a small person in a non-motorized rolling torpedo-like object and push it around a course like a baton in a relay race.

Just… here, watch this:

In case that wasn’t enough of an explanation, allow us to indulge in story time.

*ahem *

It was a chilly morning on May 14, 1920, and the Carnegie Tech campus was beginning to hatch its first signs of life. The school was preparing for its first university-wide celebration called Campus Week. By 9:30 that morning, a handful of students were already at play, racing downhill in what could only be described as “a conglomeration of rain barrels with bicycle wheels, four wheeled orange crates, and three wheeled trash cans.” This activity would soon become a formalized sport and a staple of Carnegie Mellon: a race called “Sweepstakes” more commonly known as “buggy."

Since the inception of buggy nearly a century ago, a lot has changed. The Campus Week celebration is now called “Carnival,” an extended weekend where undergraduate classes are cancelled to make way for festivities -- including the multi-day Sweepstakes tournament. The tournament saw a blossoming of interest, largely from independent organizations and fraternities. To accommodate the new participants, the racecourse was extended to include uphill and downhill portions, and team roles expanded to include more students. Nowadays, most buggy teams include:

Drivers: steer from inside the buggy

Mechanics:  build and maintain the buggies

Mechanics: build and maintain the buggies

Pushers:  propelling the buggy during the uphill and horizontal portions of the course

Pushers: propelling the buggy during the uphill and horizontal portions of the course

Flaggers: signal when the driver should turn (the driver has exceptionally low visibility)

Media and Design:  SPIRIT Buggy maintains a sub-group that creates the  raceday shirts  and  buggy designs

Media and Design: SPIRIT Buggy maintains a sub-group that creates the raceday shirts and buggy designs

All in all, the Sweepstakes tournament has seen an explosion of innovation, as student groups have devised new methods to race faster, safer, and with more control.

If you’d like, feel free to see how SPIRIT Buggy does its work and what differentiates it from other teams here.