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 Committee Chair, the highest bidder for the Judge position at the Charity Auctions 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.

History[edit | edit source]

Ye Grade Olde Chariot Race, as it is known, traces its roots back over 110 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[edit | edit source]

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.

Rules[edit | edit source]

The following is an excerpt from the 7T8/7T9 Frosh handbook.

1. Chariot. Each chariot will have:

  • at least two accessible wheels attached to the chariot with no human contact ever, on the ground throughout the race from start to finish (minimum size of wheels is 6 (six) inches in diameter).
  • no sharp protruding points or other objects dangerous to contestants i.e., cutting torches, barbed wire, electric shockers, guns, knives, bombs,etc.
  • no maximum weight limit. Minimum weight of chariot 30 (thirty) pounds (without driver)
  • human propulsion only (no gas motors, etc.).

At the start of the race, each chariot will be pointed out to its competitors by the judges. [If you wonder why this rule exists or think it's silly, you haven't been in enough chariot races.]

2. Driver. Driver must be:

  • human; or
  • a member of Engineering Science with an official student number at the University of Toronto

Driver must be over (eighteen) years of age, or under 17 (seventeen) and accompanied by an adult. Driver must be contained within the chariot throughout the entire race from start to finish. Driver may not propel himself or chariot during entire race from start to finish. Driver must be presented to judges before race by his club chairman or representative.

3. Pushers and Pullers: Only 8 (eight) allowed. All must be human males and/or human females.

4. Blockers: Offensive and Defensive - No limit. All must be human males and/or human females.

5. Offence and Defence. Rule 1 applies to all contestants as well as chariots. It is hoped that contestants will abide by the intent of this rule, which is designed to prevent loss of life, limbs, eyes, masculinity (or femininity), etc. Corollary: Anyone using axe-handles, knuckle-dusters, bike chains, etc. shall automatically bring the disqualification of his or her chariot. Blockers must not carry dangerous objects such as materials of metal, glass, wood, or plastic. Biodegradable materials (two years) such as eggs, tomatoes, watermelons, are permissible. No aerosol cans may be carried by anyone during the race. No stick bombs, smoke bombs, flames, etc, may be used bye contestants or attached onto chariots. All contestants are reminded to behave in a sportsmanlike or sportswomanlike manner (like NHL Hockey games).

6. Course: On the main campus between the lines joining the markers (refer to diagram).

7. The Race: The race shall consist of one complete running of the course in a counterclockwise direction.

8. The Time: The Race shall commence at approximately 12:45 p.m. The race shall be started by the roar of the MIGHTY SKULE CANNON.

9. Winner: The first chariot crossing the finish line with at least two wheels attached to the chariot and touching the ground, and still capable of rotation, and a driver still breathing and as human as he or she was at the beginning of the race, will be declare the winner, if it meets the following qualifications. To qualify to win, the chariot must:

  • complete the course as laid out by the judges.
  • cross the finish line with at least two rotating wheels attached to the chariot and touching the ground with no human contact or help.
  • have a charioteer who has been contained in the chariot all the time it has been moving. A chariot without a charioteer must stop until it retrieves its charioteer. It may only retrieve charioteer by going backwards relative to course direction.
  • the charioteer who has been contained in the chariot at the sound of the MIGHTY SKULE CANNON and who has been declared by the owners of the chariot as charioteer to the judges before the race, must be the charioteer at all times throughout all of the race, and when crossing the finish line set out by the judges.
  • the charioteer may not move more that three feet on the ground or in the air if he or she is not contained in the chariot during the race between start and finish. For the charioteer to move any farther, he or she must be back into (his or her original position at the time of start) the chariot.

10. The Prize: The winning team shall receive the venerable J.P.Potts Memorial Trophy plus some other unknown prize.

11. Inspection The chariots shall assemble on front campus at 12:30 sharp for the inspection by the judges. Nothing can be added to or subtracted from the chariot after inspection.

11. Eligibility (It seems as if the engineering students of old didn't know how to count...) Each course may enter one chariot which must be presented to the judges by the Club Chairman. For the purposes of this rule, the First Year Chairman shall be in charge of the First Year Entry. (First Year can enter only one chariot). First Year Engineering Science will be considered to be in First Year rather than Eng. Sci. for the purposes of this section.

Past Chariot Race Winners[edit | edit source]

Year Winner
2024 EngSci
2023 EngSci
2020 ECE
2019 Chem
2018 Civ
2017 ECE
2016 MSE
2015 MSE
2014 EngSci
2013 Mech
2012 Civ
2011 ECE
2010 ECE
2009 MSE
2008 Min
2007 Eng Sci
2006 Chem
2005 Mech
2004 Min
2003 Civ
2002 MSE
2000 ECE
1999 MSE
1998 ECE
1997 ECE
1996 Civ
1995 Mech
1994 Mech/Chem
1993 EngSci
1992 Chem
1991 Civ
1990 Civ
1989 Civ
1988 Civ
1987 Civ
1986 Indy
1985 Civ
1984 Mech
1983 Geo
1982 Chem
1981 ?
1980 ?
1979 ?
1978 Mech
1977 Geo
1976 ?
1975 ?
1974 First Year Class
1973 ?
1972 ?
1971 ?
1970 ?
1969 ?
1968 ?
1967 ?
1966 ?
1965 ?
1964 Chem