Buggy is one of the most unique, impressive, and exciting things around, but getting up before dawn 5 months a year is not for everyone and that’s OK. The mistake that too many make is to go to CMU or live in Pittsburgh and never witness buggy. So for those folks that aren’t ready to jump in, but don’t want to miss out completely, we give you this guide.
When can I see buggy happen?
The buggy races happen once a year during CMU’s spring carnival which takes place on Friday and Saturday around the 3rd week of April each year. Check the top right corner of the site for this year’s dates. Races generally start between 8 and 9am and finish by 11:30 or 12 on each day.
All teams race in the preliminary races on Friday while only the top teams race again for the championship on Saturday.
Teams train for raceday during large parts of the school year to refine their engineering and improve their athletic ability. Because we must close the public roads to roll buggies, practices are held from sunrise until 9am on weekend mornings. Practices are generally held on the weekends from early September until Thanksgiving and from February until raceday in April. The specific upcoming dates and times are displayed on the front page of this site during those seasons.
If you’re on campus and you want to see buggies in action at a convenient time and location, you may catch them during their capabilities test. Before a buggy and driver can drive the course, they must demonstrate basic safety capabilities such as visibility and braking. These tests are conducted throughout each semester on the sidewalk between Purnell Hall and the University Center closest to Forbes Ave. You’re most likely to catch them in action between 4 and 7pm in the week before each semester of freeroll practices start (early september and early february).
Where can I watch from?
One of the best parts about buggy is how varied the different segments of the race are. Each portion of the course has its unique appeal, but some are more popular than others.
- the Chute — This section at the bottom of flagstaff hill (and the intersection of Frew St and Schenley Dr) is exciting because buggies are going top speed and must navigate a tight right hand turn. Hay bales line the curb in this section to protect drivers during the occasional spin or crash.
- the “top of the hill” — The intersection of Tech Street, Frew Street, and Schenley Drive near the Tepper School of Business is a great place to see multiple parts of the race. From here you can see the buggies being pushed up Hill 1, over the crest of Hill 2, and beginning the freeroll. About two minutes later, you’ll see the same buggies cross the finish line.
How do I know what’s going on?
If you don’t know much about buggy yet, it can be difficult to figure out what’s happening during buggy races or practice. Many of the participants are busy managing their teams or preparing to race, so they might not have time to answer many questions.
- On raceday, we publish a printed guide to help spectators follow what’s going on. It can be found in the alumni tent on Frew St near the Hunt library.
- During practice freerolls, there are often alumni hanging around in the chute or at the top of the hill that would be happy to explain our favorite sport to new spectators.
- We hope this site answers your questions, but feel free to contact us if you can’t find an answer or have more in-depth questions.
What about bad weather?
Both races and freeroll practice are cancelled in the end of wet roads or other problematic weather conditions. Check the front page of this site for the most up-to-date information about the current status.