One of the primary goals of the Buggy Alumni Association is to encourage more students and more organizations to participate. It’s not the easiest sport for a new team to jump right into, but we’d argue it’s worth the effort. This guide is a work in progress, so if you have questions that aren’t answered, send us an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll add an answer.
Where to start
So you and some others in your org are curious about buggy and wondering what to do first?
- Contact Sweepstakes (email@example.com) and let them know you’re thinking about it. There’s no commitment, but they can answer questions and let you know when things are happening.
- Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are here to help. We will answer any questions you have, come by and have a chat, take a look at whatever is broken, etc.
- Rally your team. You can’t pull this off alone. You need a core of people who are excited and committed. The rest will get hooked once you’re rolling. Figure out who in your org is interested and what roles they might want to play.
- Find a space to work. Working on your buggy is loud, smelly, and dirty. Building a buggy is 100x worse. Your friends will not be happy if you try to do all of this in the living room. You don’t need a huge amount of space, but you’ve got to have a space that is for buggy.
- Get a buggy. You basically have two options here. You can build your own buggy from scratch or your can buy or borrow a buggy from another organization. Both come with their challenges, but if you can find an unused buggy from another org, that is probably the cheaper and faster way to get started. Sweepstakes and the BAA can help you figure out who might have a buggy for sale.
If you are building your own buggy
- Materials to build a buggy – Different people will quote dramatically different numbers for the cost for materials for a buggy. Of course, you can spend tons of money if you want, but you’re just starting out.
- Carbon fiber, epoxy and resin, foam for a mold, nomex or foam for a spacer and/or pan, bagging film/trash compactor bags/sheet plastic, tacky tape, disposable scissors/paint brushes/digital scales/popsicle sticks/measuring cups, raw aluminum, lexan, wheels and bearings, paint, assorted nuts, bolts, screws, sandpaper, bondo or other surface filler, etc.
- Tools to build a buggy – There are some tools you’ll need every week, others that are only necessary for specific buggy building techniques.
- A basic set of wrenches, screwdrivers, allen (hex) wrenches, drill, a hacksaw and duct tape will probably get you through most things if all you are doing is working on a preexisting buggy. If you’re inventive, patient, and really, really broke they might be enough to build a buggy. To build comfortably, you will need quite a few more-notably a mill, lathe, band saw, drill press, vacuum pump, vise, pop rivet gun, dremel tool, etc.
If you are buying a buggy
- The buggy. This is entirely up to you and the other org. We’ll try to research some past sale prices and include them here.
- Tools to maintain a buggy. Maintaining a buggy is mostly a nuts and bolts operation. You’ll need a ratchet set and the associated nut drivers, screw drivers, crescent wrenches, hex wrenches, pliers, etc. A vice, tapping and threading tools, hack saws, and a dremel will allow you to make some basic replacement parts when things break. A few hundred dollars would probably cover this category.
- Driver gear. Drivers need a helmet, googles, gloves, and a harness (which may come with a buggy if you buy it). This is a not a good area to try and save money, but a couple hundred dollars should cover it.
- Sweepstakes charges a small fee for each team that your org enters.
- Ongoing operational costs. Over the course of a year, you may wear out your tires, need to buy new bearings, or run out of supplies like bearing lube, windshield defogger, and flashlight batteries. The tires and bearings are the largest part of this category, but the range of possible prices is large (~$15-250 per wheel).
Buggy is fun. These are better thought of as times you get to do buggy, not times you have to do buggy.
- Safeties and Capes. Before you can roll your buggy you have to meet with the safety chair and make sure you buggy meets all the safety rules. Then you must bring your buggy out and pass “capes” which prove that the brakes work well enough and that the driver can see. This is only takes on afternoon if everything goes smoothly.
- Rolls prep. Before each morning of rolls, you should probably take some time to make sure you’ve got everything in order. Check the condition of the buggy, make sure all the driver’s things are together, gather all the things you want to have during rolls. Probably a few hours a week during the fall and spring seasons.
- Rolls are the primary opportunity to practice your entire operation. They happen on Saturday and Sunday mornings when the weather is acceptable in the fall and spring. Mechanics are usually out setting up by 5am while pushers can show up later between 6:30 and 7 as the sun rises. Teams are not required to be out at rolls every time, but drivers need a certain number of rolls to qualify for raceday. New teams should try to get as much practice as they can.
- Push practice is an extra opportunity to practice before raceday that focuses specifically on the pushers. Push practice happens from around spring break until raceday late in the evenings starting at 11pm. Teams can practice for as long as they like during push practice. Push practice is entirely optional.
- Team management. Someone from the team must go to a short chairman’s meeting each week held by sweepstakes. Communication and coordination is not trivial in buggy as there are pushers, mechanics, and drivers all of whom have different schedules and responsibilities.
- Building a buggy. Building a buggy will be the most time consuming part of the experience, but (at least mechanics would argue) also the most rewarding. You should expect to spend at least a couple of months building a buggy if it is your primary non-scholastic activity and you have at least a small team involved.