Ramblin' Reck Parade (1970-2010)

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The Ramblin' Reck leading the parade


What is the Ramblin' Wreck Parade?

The Ramblin’ Reck Parade is a parade that is held during homecoming, usually the Saturday morning of homecoming football game. The Ramblin’ Reck, which leads the parade each year, takes the participants (mostly fraternities) all over campus; it begins at the corner of Fowler and Eighth Street, and continues down Fowler Street to the corner of Fowler and Fourth Street. The Ramblin’ Reck Parade is designed to invoke a sense of pride in Georgia Tech. By having the students, themselves, in control of designing the “contraptions”, it creates a sense of satisfaction upon completion of the parade, as well as a sense of community by having fellow Tech students cheering on the participants. [1]

History of the Ramblin' Wreck Parade

The 80 year tradition of the Ramblin’ Reck Parade stems from the history of the Ramblin’ Reck itself, which began in 1916 when the Dean of Men, Floyd Field bought a 1914 Ford Model T. Over the years the Dean’s students had grown accustomed to the Model T, and aptly nicknamed the car the “Ramblin’ Reck.” And in 1929, when Field finally decided to let the “Ramblin’ Reck” go, his students were distraught. Floyd Field then created “Flying Flivver Race” (also known as the "Old Ford Race") due to his love for automobiles; as well as to cheer up his students. The "Flying Flivver Race" was an illegal road race that ran 79 miles, from Atlanta to Athens, more commonly known as the Cesspool of the South. [2] Any student who was willing to break the speed limit, and possibly get a ticket, for the sake of winning the race could enter into the “Flying Flivver Race,” Georgia Tech administration soon stepped in and said that due to the increasing speeds of the cars, the race was too dangerous for students, after only two years, the race was disbanded. After the race was disbanded the Yellow Jacket Club (now the Ramblin' Reck Club) aided Dean Field in creating the Ramblin’ Reck Parade, which was less hazardous, and the parade is still going strong to this day. [3] The Ramblin’ Reck Parade was officially adopted into annual homecoming celebrations in 1936. The parade was held Friday night before homecoming, but the finalists would circle the track at the game on Saturday. [4] After completing the parade, the groups traditionally park their Reck in a lot known as the “Reck Graveyard.” The “Reck Graveyard” is a storage area where students keep their Reck until the following year. For the following year’s entry, they use parts from previous years to construct their new Reck. [5]


A Contraption Participant
A Fixed-Body Participant
Classic Car Participant

There are three categories in the Ramblin' Reck Parade that participants may choose from. Each category has different conditions that the entry must meet, and each category is judged differently.

The Contraption

In the contraption category, the entry must be propelled by an indirect drive train (the transmission does not directly propel the contraption's wheels) that must be completely designed and engineered by the students themselves. The contraption class has entries that are nearly unrecognizable as automobiles. This category is judged based off of creativeness as well as being able to complete the course. The contraption category is usually the most time consuming of the three categories, but the pay-off is usually worth the time spent. Contraptions are usually what viewers come to see, due to their curiosity. Past contraptions include hovercraft, pulse-jet cars, propeller carts, waterwheel vehicles, and giant pendulum-propelled cars to name a few.

The Fixed-Body

The fixed-body category is comprised of entries that still have the automobile’s original drive train but the body has been cosmetically altered. These “Recks” tend to have themes but are different from the typical floats one may see in a regular parade. Typical fixed-body entries show Georgia Tech spirit. These Recks usually depict some variation of Buzz conquering some other mascot or any other visual representation of a Tech tradition. These entries are very elaborate and very appealing to the eyes, especially to those of Tech students.

The Classic Car

The classic car category is fairly self-explanatory; it is made up of automobiles that are 25 years old or older and the entries typically aren’t altered from the original model.

Parade Rules

The following are the rules that each participant must follow. If any of the rules are broken, it is entirely possible that a team may be removed from the Ramblin’ Reck Parade.

  • Absolutely no alcohol is allowed.
  • All passengers must wear seatbelts.
  • All Recks must be self-propelled (no push power) to receive points for time.
  • The maximum height for a Reck is 13’0”
  • The maximum length for a Reck is 100’0”
  • No separate units are allowed unless they are re-attachable parts of the Reck.
  • All Recks must be equipped with one “Dead Man’s” control (a switch that removes power from the Reck) per motor.
  • All Recks are required to have functioning brakes.
  • All wheels must be street navigable and must be inflatable.
  • All entries are required to have a fully-functional fire extinguisher on board.
  • All fixed-body and contraption class entries must have two mounted hooks at both the front and back of the Reck.
  • A strong material must cover all pulley-type systems, moving chains and gears.
  • No obscene, profane, alcohol-related or implied effects will be allowed.
  • Any “pseudo-reck” displaying pomps will not be allowed entry into the Parade.
  • A maximum speed limit of 10 mph will be enforced on Classic Car entries. A maximum speed limit of 5 mph will be enforced on Fixed Body and Contraption entries.
  • Recks will be required to keep a minimum safe following distance of five car lengths.
  • Recks that break down on the Parade Route will be immediately pulled to the side and allotted five minutes in which to make the necessary repairs to finish the course. Failure to make the Reck operational will result in disqualification.
  • Each entry must have no less than five and not more than ten representatives to follow the Fixed Bodies and Contraptions through the route to assist in the event of mechanical failure.
  • Sponsors will be allowed in all classes and may be recognized with advertising on the Recks.
  • As dictated by Fire Codes, all Reck constructions must be performed no less than 25 feet from any building.
  • Lateness will not be tolerated at any time. Excluding acts of God, the Parade will start on time.
  • Safety will remain the most prominent consideration for all Recks. No Reck will be allowed into the parade if its operation is unsafe to spectators or its operators.
  • Any questions concerning these Rules will be referred to the Parade Chairman, and his or her decision will be final.


Point Categories

Each Reck category is judged differently, due to the radical differences in entries.

Contraption - Any vehicle with indirect drive train other than that specified under the Fixed Body Category.

  • Static - 40% Mechanical integrity, originality, appearance under static conditions.
  • Operational - 40% How vehicle works, appearance when in motion, ingenuity of motion
  • Time - 15% Contraptions must travel the distance from the corner of 8th Street to 30 yards beyond the Judge’s stand in 12 minutes. If the Contraption is unable to travel the distance in the prescribed time, it may be pushed to the Judge’s stand to be started on time and be judged under the “Operational” category listed above. No Reck will be disqualified for not traveling the distance in the prescribed time, but it will not receive points for this category. If it becomes obvious that the Reck will not travel the distance in the prescribed time limit, the Parade Chairman will request that the Contraption be pushed to the Judge’s Stand.
  • Written Presentation - 5% Each entry will submit a written description that includes any special effects, sponsors, history, work completed on the Reck, and anything else of interest.

Fixed Body - Any vehicle employing a direct drive train (transmission directly propelling drive wheels). Same rules apply as in Contraption Category; points are weighted as follows:

  • Static - 40%
  • Operational - 45%
  • Time - 10%
  • Written Presentation - 5%

Classic - Unmodified vehicle at least 25 years old.

  • Static Presentation-45% Overall appearance of operator and passengers, special effects, etc.
  • Degree of Restoration - 35%
  • Operational Performance - 15%
  • Written Presentation - 5% Short Summary on Classic. This must include year, model, make and owner. History of the car and other facts of interest are strongly encouraged. Please write in paragraph form with a maximum of 150 words.

Scoring The winner in each class will be determined in the following manner:

  • Judges will score each Reck based on the point breakdown listed above. The maximum number of points is 100.


Development of the parade from 1970-2010

Over the past 40 years the Ramblin' Reck Parade has developed fairly significantly. Most of the changes are due to stricter safety regulations, such as keeping a fire extinguisher and specific rules of that nature. The Parade has also changed due to the significant increase in technology; innovations such as pulse jet engines have even been equipped to the Recks. In 2006 a fraternity entered a pulse jet Reck into the Ramblin’ Reck Parade, due to the incredibly loud noise it produced ear plugs were offered to the crowd. The Reck did not successfully complete the parade route, yet it is still made its mark on Georgia Tech history. The Ramblin' Reck Parade has given aspiring engineers a chance to prove their worth for more than 80 years. Over those 80 years, the Ramblin’ Reck Parade has made a name for itself, both in Georgia Tech as well as throughout the country. Although many have petitioned to make the Ramblin’ Reck Parade more of a float-type parade, the student body has been persistent in keeping the parade the way it has been for over 80 years. [8]


  1. The Ramblin' Wreck Parade. In TBook.org. Retrieved October 1, 2010 from http://cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/tbook/older/traditions/homecoming.html
  2. Wallace Jr., Robert B. ‘’Dress Her in White and Gold- A Biography of Georgia Tech. Atlanta: Georgia Tech Foundation, 1963. Print.
  3. Ramblin' Wreck Drives on(2007) In The Technique Retrieved September 10, 2010 from The Technique; Volume 93, Issue 3
  4. Wallace Jr., Robert B. ‘’Dress Her in White and Gold- A Biography of Georgia Tech. Atlanta: Georgia Tech Foundation, 1963. Print.
  5. Conversations with Marilyn Somers, Director of the Georgia tech Living History Program.
  6. Ramblin' Reck Parade Rules(Fall 2001) Retrieved October 1, 2010 from http://www.gtpkt.org/wreck/info/RECKPARADE.doc
  7. Ramblin' Reck Parade Rules(Fall 2001) Retrieved October 1, 2010 from http://www.gtpkt.org/wreck/info/RECKPARADE.doc
  8. The Ramblin' Wreck Parade. In TBook.org. Retrieved October 1, 2010 from http://cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/tbook/older/traditions/homecoming.html

Source Summary: Ramblin' Reck Parade Photographs

Source Summary:Ramblin' Wreck Drives On (Technique; Volume 93, Issue 3)

Source Summary: Celebrate Homecoming traditions

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