Ye Grande Olde Chariot Race

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Chariot being pushed at a Chariot Race

Ye Grade Olde Chariot Race is the oldest tradition of Godiva Week, dating back over 100 years. This illustrious race pits every discipline (and the F!rosh) against each other in a full-contact race through the snow (or mud) of Front Campus. The Chariot Race included entries from other Faculties and Colleges decades ago when it was a campus-wide event.

The winner of the Chariot Race is decided by a committee of three judges - a Blue & Gold Chair, the highest bidder for the Judge position at the Charity Stores Auction during Godiva Week, and the champion of Godiva's Quest. The judges have been known to take 'bribes' of BEvERages in the process of choosing a winner.

The winning Discipline Club receives bragging rights and the J.P. Potts Memorial Trophy for one year.


Ye Grade Olde Chariot Race, as it is known, traces its roots back over 100 years. In the early days, the Engineering Society election night was one of the major social events of the year. Rather than simply dropping ballots into a box, the large drafting room in the Little Red Skulehouse became the scene of all sorts of entertainment and sports. In particular, aspiring 'charioteers' would balance themselves on chamber pots whose handles were threaded with tow-ropes. Teams of their fellow students would pull them around the room to the delight of the crowd.

Over the years, and over two world wars, the EngSoc elections changed in format, and the old style chariot races died out. However, in 1947, they were resurrected in a completely new format. Skule™ announced a massive, campus-wide chariot race around front campus to be used as a publicity stunt for the annual Engineering At-Home (a large dinner dance that was the forerunner of Cannonball). It was so successful that the race caught on as a major campus rivalry event, drawing entries from almost all the federated colleges and faculties at the University of Toronto.

In 1949, the J.P. Potts Memorial Trophy was created, which greatly increased campus involvement and rivalry. At the 1949 race, Skule™ was declared the winners, but the Meds disputed the result, and stole the Skule™ Cannon. The next year, the Meds also stole the Jerry P. Potts Memorial Trophy before the race.

By 1953, it was recognized that things were getting a bit out of hand, so EngSoc decided to restrict the races to engineering disciplines only. The races have changed very little in form since that time.

J.P. Potts Memorial Trophy

The Jerry P. Potts Memorial Trophy is awarded each year to the winning Discipline Club at Ye Grade Olde Chariot Race. The trophy was first awarded in 1949, when in an effort to take things to the next level, an article in The Varsity announced that EngSoc had decided to cancel the race because "they feel there are no worthy competitors". In response, the number of entries skyrocketed, to the point where EngSoc felt that it was appropriate to offer a trophy to the winning team.

The trophy was initially proposed as the "Jerry P. Jolte Memorial Trophy", named after a person whom was thought to be a key figure around Skule™ after the turn of the century. However, no records have ever indicated his existence. There was, however, a prominent figure on the Students' Administrative Council (SAC) that year by the name of Joseph H. Potts. Potts had long been an outspoken critic of the races, complaining that the Engineers always employed corrupt judges. In his honour the J.P. Potts Memorial Trophy was born.

The modern J.P. Potts trophy is shaped like a small chamber pot, likely in honour of the historic pots used in early chariot races. The original J.P. Potts trophy has long since been lost, and its current whereabouts unknown. In 1998, a new trophy was commissioned for the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Faculty by the Blue & Gold Chairs of '98 and '96. Engraved on the trophy are the words: "To the champions of yesterday / though the records are lost / the memories never fade".

The trophy, however, has been damaged repeatedly, and currently only the 'pot' portion of the trophy is presented to the winners each year.

Past Chariot Race Winners

Year Winner
2011 ECE
2010 ECE
2009 MSE
2008 Min
2007 EngSci
2006 ?
2005 Mech
2004 Min
2003 Civ
2002 MSE
2001 EngSci
2000 ECE
1999 MSE
1998 ECE
1997 ECE
1996 Civ
1995 Mech
1994 Mech