Ramblin' Reck Parade
Homecoming, for most schools, including Georgia Tech, is a time when the traditions and old history come to fruition. Georgia Tech’s homecoming is a weeklong affair containing numerous events that lead up to the football game on Saturday afternoon. Events include multiple different Greek sports competitions, such as: the Mini 500, the freshman cake race, and the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade. 
The Ramblin' Wreck
The Ramblin' Wreck is deeply rooted in Georgia Tech’s history and plays a role in multiple Georgia Tech traditions. The first Ramblin’ Wreck was a 1914 Ford Model T owned by Dean Floyd Field. Physically, the Ramblin’ Wreck has been altered over the years with multiple paint jobs and repairs as a result of damages and aging. The current Ramblin’ Reck is a 1930 Ford Model A that the student body has owned since 1961. The Ramblin’ Reck club has been in operation to take care of the mascot and elect the driver of the prestigious automobile. There is also a fight song titled “I’m a Rambling Wreck” and is sung at sporting events, school functions, and at the end of every graduation ceremony. Students at Georgia Tech are also nicknamed Ramblin’ Wrecks. The Ramblin’ Wreck is a big part of Georgia Tech student life, history, and evidence of the Ramblin' Wrecks importance can be seen all over the campus in multiple different aspects.
Beginnings of the Ramblin' Wreck Parade
The Ramblin’ Wreck is a standard in Georgia history and the Ramblin’ Wreck parade is also a part of Georgia Tech’s traditions. In 1929, Georgia Tech’s newspaper, “The Technique”, began the “Old Ford Race” to Athens. This race was also known as the “Flying Fliver”, named in honor of Dean Field’s old car, the previous Ramblin’ Wreck, nicknamed the “Flying Fliver”. Students would illegally race 70 miles to Athens in order to watch the football game between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and its arch rival, the University of Georgia at Athens Bulldogs. In 1932, the administration found out about the illegal activities and put a stop to them due to the danger it exposed to both the students driving and the other motorists. That same year the administration proposed what is today’s Ramblin’ Wreck Parade as an alternative to the dangerous and illegal race the students were participating in.
The Different Categories
The parade consists of three different categories of entries: classic cars, contraptions, and fixed body. The classic car division can be any type of car, but must be at least 25 years of age, and may not be altered drastically from its original condition. In the contraption category, the “car” must be propelled by an indirect drive train. This means that the transmission may not be hooked up to the “car’s” wheels directly. Rather, the transmission should be connected to another part, and then that other part may turn the wheels to move the car. This category calls for Georgia Tech’s students to display all the engineering knowledge and ingenuity that they have been gaining in the classroom and really put it to the test. In doing so they are challenging themselves to push their own limits as well as the limits of technology. The contraption category is what makes the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade a deeply rooted tradition for Tech due to the engineering and ingenuity, which is what Georgia Tech seeks in their students. The last category is the fixed-body category, which consists of a “car” with the base of a standard car and an altered top. In other terms, this category is a float contest, where students have the opportunity to turn a car into a float. Many Greek organizations, student organizations, or educational departments will enter this category. The students participating in this category will generally think of a theme or some message they want to deliver to the audience, and spend numerous hours decorating the car in order to display this message.
A panel of judges, judge all three categories based on the mechanical reliability of the vehicle, its appearance, how well the vehicle works, how fast it completes the parade, and its written presentation explaining the layout and organization of the vehicle. The one and only Ramblin’ Wreck leads the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade, which begins on the corner of 8th Street and Fowler Street, and finishes on Fowler Street and Ferst Drive Saturday morning prior to the football game. The contestants are judged after their “car” crosses the finish line, and any “car” that cannot cross the finish line will be disqualified. More often than not, the failing vehicles are usually pushed by hand across the finish line. This contest takes a lot of hard work, teamwork, and spirit in order to compete in and the ideas are very original, which not only makes each parade unique, but builds a tradition of originality, ingenuity, and creativity.
The Ramblin’ Wreck Parade took a turn for the worst when it did not run in 1942 and 1943. An American fuel shortage, caused by World War II, resulted in the cancellation of the Parade. In 1944, the parade was back in commission, but there was one small difference. Due to the fuel shortage, the contraptions category of the parade had to be human powered. This allowed for even more spectacular and clever contraptions. In 1946, gasoline power was allowed again, but this did not stop the ingenuity. Besides the years of 1942 and 1943 the parade has become an annual tradition for Georgia Tech for the last 76 years.
Many different participants partake in the parade each year. The classic car category normally consists of classic car aficionados. The fixed-body category normally is the category with the most student body organizations that work together to craft their entry. The contraption category consists of students who are innovative thinkers. Most commonly, these students and familiar with and feel comfortable around cars, and can build and modify them in order to create a totally original and head-turning contraption. Although each group of participants may be slightly different, they all have one thing in common. They all have school spirit and are eager to participate in Georgia Tech’s long line of history and tradition to become a part of Georgia Tech’s history.
Although the parade started as an illegal street race it has developed into a school sanctioned event that has multiple positive aspects. Instead of calling for reckless driving and daring drivers as it did when it first started, today’s parade calls for school spirit, creativity, teamwork, ingenuity, and multiple other important skills that Georgia Tech wants its graduates to demonstrate. The parade is held each year to bring all of these skills to fulfillment as well as to excite and increase the campus’ morale. After each event during homecoming week, the students get more and more excited about the other events during the week, which all lead up to the biggest homecoming tradition, the football game. After homecoming week students are “buzz”ing with school spirit and a passion for their school. After learning more about Georgia Tech’s history and traditions throughout the year, but mainly during homecoming, students tend to get to know their school better and take pride in their school. The Ramblin’ Wreck Parade helps all of this happen which is why it is such an important event, school tradition, and a major part of Georgia Tech's history.
- Source Summary: Celebrate Homecoming traditions
- Source Summary: Inventory of the Ramblin' Reck Parade Photographs, 1951
- Source Summary: Alpha Tau Omega's Rambling Wreck' Homecoming
- Source Summary: Ramblin' Reck Parade Photographs
- Source Summary:Ramblin' Wreck Drives On (Technique; Volume 93, Issue 3)