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News Release

MAE Senior Organizes First Triton Junkyard Derby


MAE senior Ben Graham talks about why he organized the first-ever Junkyard Derby. Length: 1:54

San Diego , Tuesday, June 1, 2004 -- On Friday, May 21, teams of students, staff and faculty from across the campus participated in the first-ever Triton Junkyard Derby. The boxcar competition was based on the popular Learning Channel program "Junkyard Wars," and organized by outgoing MAE senior Ben Graham and Alumni Association staff member Tracie Davee. "It went off without a hitch," says Graham. "We wanted to create something that would engage the entire campus as well as alumni and other groups, and based on the turnout and excitement of the crowd watching the Derby, I think we achieved that goal."

The three-day event began with an orientation for interested students, followed by a scavenger hunt in a large pile of "junk" at Physical Plant Services donated by various departments, corporations and student organizations. Teams had two days to use scraps of that junk to build a boxcar entry capable of making it to the finish line.

Race Washing Before
Race Washing After
Building a chariot boxcar out of a washing machine 
'Washing machine' team gets ready to race

The round-robin races pitted two teams at a time, down the Peterson Hall walkway, finishing in front of Geisel Library at the end of Library Walk. After a series of races (including one faceoff between a student riding a couch on wheels and one driving a washing machine mounted on bike tires), the championship race pitted Team Darkside (made up of liberal-arts students and a structural engineer) versus the engineering-based Team Constitution. The ultimate winner: Team Darkside, by less than half a second. In keeping with the theme, the winner's trophy was made from an old road sign and the celebration included a dowsing of sparkling cider, in keeping with NASCAR tradition.

The races were staged on the same day as the 22nd annual Sun God festival, giving students and alumni even more of a reason to spend the day outdoors. "We've been looking for a creative way to bring alumni back to Sun God, which is a great event, and add just something that's really spirited," John Valva, executive director of the Alumni Association, told the UCSD Guardian.

The Triton Junkyard Derby was co-sponsored by the UCSD Alumni Association and the Triton Engineering Student Council, but garnered support from numerous other organizations, including some of the campus undergraduate colleges.

Junkyard Winners
Junk available to student teams for their entries 
Team Darkside takes home the trophy 
Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey
Jacobs School of Engineering