Let the games begin: A ramblin’ race at the Institute

Students do their best to balance on their tricycles as they battle it out for first place. The Mini 500 is a long-standing tradition at the Institute, drawing crowds each year. // Photo by Ashika Srivastava Student Publications

Homecoming at the Institute is a lively weekend full of traditions with family and friends. Ranging from the Greek Life pomp competition to the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade, these events serve as a way for alumni to return to campus and celebrate the connections they formed here.

The Mini 500 is a tradition that has been unique to Tech since 1969. 

Students make eight laps around Peters Parking Deck on tricycles that have been modified by teams of seven members. Each team consists of four racers and three pit crew members.

The catch of this event is that each team must rotate the front tire of their tricycles three times during the race. They can do this at any time, but it must have been done three times before they cross the finish line on the final lap. 

The tricycles are notoriously known for breaking down the longer they are pushed and rotated.

For a tricycle race, it is a surprisingly intense event. Brothers from the fraternity houses lining the parking deck sit on the sidelines screaming as the racers hurry to finish. The sidewalks are full of students, faculty and alumni that are also cheering at the top of their lungs.

When watching, racers can be seen falling off their tricycles and pit crew members rushing to make adjustments to the tires. 

The atmosphere of the event is energetic and lively as people encourage competitors and laugh with loved ones. 

Although it was crowded, the Technique was able to navigate the race in order to interview those watching and those participating.

Tonya Martin, IE ‘97, watched the Mini 500 with her husband and son and told the Technique about her ties to the Institute. 

“The foundation of our family is Georgia Tech,” Martin said. “The traditions draw alumni back.”

A common theme found among answers when asked about why Tech traditions are so important was the idea of unity.

 No matter when one studied or worked at Tech, many members of the community feel that they will always have a family on campus. 

The Ramblin’ Reck Club, a student organization that promotes school spirit on campus, is the host of the Mini 500. Evalyn Edwards, third-year HTS, is a part of this group and is also the 2022 driver of the Ramblin’ Reck.

She believes that these traditions mean “unity across campus and having fun all together.” 

Edwards also informed that the Mini 500 this year was sponsored by The Home Depot, explaining why many tricycles were decked out in orange and why Buzz was wearing an orange apron as a cape. 

Vanessa Seidel, fourth-year EE, formed her Mini 500 team with her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. When asked why traditions like these are important on campus, she said that it “brings the entire school together regardless of what college you’re in and what major you are.”

In an overwhelmingly STEM environment, Tech traditions help students put aside their studies and come together as friends that can enjoy what the school has to offer. 

The Technique was able to interview the winning team of the Mini 500, the Invention Studio. 

This group is the largest student-run makerspace in the country. Team member Ian MacKeith, third-year ME, talked about how rewarding it was to create with friends and “to be a part of something that’s been a part of the school for so long.” 

He also extends a warm invite to visit Invention Studio for anyone interested in creating that needs help to do so. The tradition of the Mini 500 is a vital example of what it means to be a Jacket at the Institute as people from all over come together to celebrate history and friendship. 

Tech traditions highlight the ideas of unity, hard work and teamwork. These events will serve as a way to stay a community that can lean on each other while having a good time and sharing a few laughs as people fall off decorated tricycles in the middle of the road.