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Georgia Tech's Labor of Hercules: the Mini 500

Peters Park in 1981 before construction of Peters Parking Deck.
Peters Park in 1981 before construction of Peters Parking Deck.

In 1969, Ramblin' Reck Club organized the first edition of what has become a Georgia Tech homecoming staple: the Mini 500 Tricycle Race. A 2009 Emmy-winning PSA further cemented the allure of the notorious race. The race requires men's teams to race 15 laps (5.4 miles) around Peters Parking Deck. Women's teams race two thirds the distance or only 10 laps (3.6 miles). The race is a grueling test of endurance and requires at most 4 riders and 3 pit crew members. The riders can substitute after each lap and as many times as they want throughout the race. The pit crew's responsibility is to quickly rotate the front tire at least 3 times before the race is over (only once per lap).

The race was originally run around Peters Park even after the construction of Peters Parking Deck was completed in 1984. The only change in the course location was in 1999-2001 when the race was held in the Alexander Memorial Coliseum Parking Lot. According to a 2002 Technique issue, the Mini 500 was moved to the AMC lot due to construction on Brittain Drive (the Eastern border of the race). The race was moved back to Peters in 2002 because it was harder during work hours for faculty members (who park at AMC) to move their cars than for students (who park around Peters).

I have selected some awesome rules excerpts from the Homecoming Handbook:

NO ALCOHOL WILL BE ALLOWED IN THE PIT AREA! Any team violating this rule will be immediately disqualified and will receive a one-year suspension from the Mini 500.

I only recall a few drunk teams from my Mini 500 observing days. Being drunk is a pretty big disadvantage.

Any organization connected to spectators who are behaving in a disorderly or unsportsman-like manner, or who are causing danger to participants will be disqualified immediately.

The best examples I recall of this were fraternities launching "human speed bumps" or teams dressed as pirates attacking serious racers. The human speed bumps were typically dudes rolled in large sheets of duct-taped foam with the words "Speed Bump" written on the foam. They would fall in the middle of the course and roll towards unsuspecting racers.

NO spare tricycle parts will be allowed in the pit area. Teams may not borrow or share parts with other teams, even if one team is no longer participating in the race...No welding equipment or power tools are allowed in the pit with the exception of battery operated screw drivers.

Every team is always looking for the slightest mechanical or strategic advantage. There are 30 rules for the Mini 500 that have been created, modified, and updated since 1969 for every situation presented to the Reck Clubbers refereeing the event.


To Hell with Georgia.

Make sure you check out the Mini 500 on the Friday before the Homecoming Game. Unfortunately, it has been held at 3:00PM. on Homecoming Fridays since the race began making it a challenge for working spectators to attend. Edit: This year's MIni 500 will take place at 5pm. However, if there's one event that you should see on Homecoming Weekend, it is the start of the Mini 500 Tricycle Race.