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A History Lesson in Tradition: The Ramblin' Wreck

In our move, we are also migrating over some of our more popular and more important posts. Here is the history of the one and only Ramblin' Wreck.

Many of you may have realized that one of my favorite constants here at Georgia Tech is the Ramblin' Wreck.

So here is a little history lesson on the ONE AND ONLY Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech.

The Phrase

The term Ramblin' Wreck has been around a lot longer than the car has been here at Georgia Tech. The term was first coined towards us during the late 19th century in South America. There, many Georgia Tech engineers made automobiles of whatever spare parts they could find. These vehicles and engineers were dubbed "Ramblin' Wrecks from Georgia Tech".

The Early Years

The first mechanical mascot for Georgia Tech was not the 1930 Model A we know today. It was actually the 1914 Model T owned by Dean of Men, Floyd Field. Field drove the Model T around campus, to and fro during his tenure from 1916-1929. Eventually the students of Georgia Tech grew to associate Dean Field with his model T and first called the car "Floyd's Flubber". Later down the line, in 1926 was the first association of the Model T and the Ramblin' Wreck. In 1929, Field had to get rid of the car as it could not travel as the Dean wanted to. The Technique gave the car an obituary that year saying:

'The car itself was a stimulus to flaggering spirits. What persistence lay in its performance, as year in and year out it hauled the Dean to and from school. Of course its body was not in keeping with the latest styles, or its color one to excite an artist, but what can be more beautiful that faithfulness, who can ask more of machinery other than to have it run.'

In a memorial to the car, a race to Athens was held in its honor. The descendant of this race is the Ramblin' Reck Parade which is still put on by the Ramblin' Reck Club and held the morning of the homecoming football game.

The Real Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia


It wasn't until 1960 did the Ramblin' Wreck make it on campus. The then Dean of Students, Dean Dull saw that it was very popular for students to have wrecks that could barely run. It was more or less a rite of passage for a student to own a Wreck. Dean Dull set out to have an official Ramblin Wreck that the entire student body could enjoy. He was specifically looking for a pre-World War II Ford. One day as he was leaving his apartment at Towers dorm when he saw it parked outside, a 1930 Ford Model A. The owner was a gentleman by the name Ted Johnson, a Delta pilot, who had bought the car from a junkyard and had restored the car with his son Craig. Dean Dull convinced Johnson to sell the car for $1,000. Johnson later returned the money and made it official that he donated the Ramblin' Wreck to Georgia Tech. The ONE AND ONLY Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech had been born and finalized.

The Ramblin' Wreck led the football team out onto the field for the very first time on September 30, 1961against Rice University in which the Yellow Jackets won 24-0. Last summer, infamous accident occurred and many people were worried that the Wreck would not be able to lead the team out for the first time since its inception. The final touches were put on the night before the game by members and alumni of the Reck Club. That afternoon, the Wreck led the Yellow Jackets onto the field to the roar of the crowd. It has led the team out ever since. August 28th will be the 293rd consecutive game the Wreck leads the team into battle.

Photo courtesy of Max Shirley

Facts about the Wreck

Many people have no idea who maintains the car or who drives the car. It is the Ramblin' Reck Club who takes care of the car on behalf of the student body. Every year after the Georgia game the club holds officer elections and the driver is voted in during these elections.

The Ramblin' Wreck is a 1930 Ford Model A Sports Coupe. There is ONLY ONE of these vehicles on campus. The Alumni Association has a 1931 Ford Model A Roadster that they use for Alumni Association functions that the real Reck can not attend. The Georgia Tech Hotel and Convention Center has a 1930 Ford Model A shell that sits in the lobby of the building.

There have been two female drivers of the Ramblin' Reck, the first was Lisa Volmar in 1984.

The first student driver was Don Gentry, the 1961 Ramblin' Reck Club President.

Bobby Dodd is ther person responsible for the current scheme. He liked 1971 Lincoln Gold so much that he had the football helmets painted that way to match the color on the Wreck.

The first wedding the Wreck appeared at was at the wedding of an alumni named famously, Calvin Johnson in 1978.

Since September 30, 1961 there have been 10 different head coaches, 6,885 points scored on Grant Field, 190 victories at Bobby Dodd Stadium, and 1 Ramblin’ Wreck.

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