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"Batman" Named Junkyard Derby Champion

By Ioana Patringenaru | May 15, 2006

Team Gotham
Team Gotham, this year's Junkyard Derby champions, poses with their home-made Batmobile before the competition.

What does it take to win the Triton Junkyard Derby? Hard work and creativity? Sure. But last Friday, it also took a Batman costume and some black paper.

These were some of the ingredients that went into this year’s winning boxcar, a Batmobile look-alike built by a team of electrical engineering students who called themselves Team Gotham.Team members used store-bought paper to build a Batmobile shell around their contraption. Andrew Chan, the driver, was clad in a Batman costume, including a mask. Why Batman? “It’s a classic,” said student Daniel Leu.

For a while, it looked like Team Gotham had met its demise after losing to the Electrical Engineering Society’s AC/DC team in time trials. But this year, teams could also earn points for creativity, decorations and crowd support. So in the end, Batman and Team Gotham made up for their loss and prevailed, becoming derby champions.

Meanwhile, another team survived time trials, several elimination rounds and a semi-final to win the racing part of the competition. Ingredients for that boxcar included pieces of a shopping cart, parts from three bikes, a chunk of shelving unit and a broiling pan. A team of engineering students built the contraption, dubbed “Mismatch” – for obvious reasons. In the final race, Mismatch barreled down a hay-bale-lined course and outperformed another vehicle decked out to look like a jet fighter. It was the first year that Mismatch’s creators took part in the competition.

Boxcars raced downhill from Peterson Hall to the entrance of the Geisel Library on a hay-bale-lined course.
Boxcars raced downhill from Peterson Hall to the entrance of the Geisel Library on a hay-bale-lined course.

“This is great,” said Stefanie Mah. “We didn’t think we would win. We just had fun building it.”

It took about eight hours to build Mismatch, said team member Anson Brune. Around midnight last night, Hayik Malkonian, the driver, sprayed pink and green paint on the finished product. “It was dark,” he said, when asked about his choice of colors.

The Triton Junkyard Derby, presented by the UCSD Alumni Association and the Triton Engineering Student Council, is in its third year. It is inspired by the popular Discovery Channel show “Junkyard Wars.” In all, 22 teams took part in this year’s derby, up from 16 last year. Team members worked tirelessly starting Wednesday evening. First, they sifted through monumental piles of junk that awaited them in Parking Lot 703. This year’s offerings included a recliner, ironing boards, screen doors, a car hood, lawnmowers and bicycles. Then the teams went to work on their vehicles. The Campus Research Machine Shop welded the contraptions.

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox at the starting line.
Chancellor Marye Anne Fox at the starting line.

Friday, it was time to see whether the boxcars could actually make it down the hill from Peterson Hall to the Geisel Library. As competitions raced, spectators crowded along the course, cheering loudly. Some were students. Others were family members. Jerry Gilliam had come to watch her son Wayde, a UCSD alumni who now works in business affairs at the university.

“It’s really fun,” she said.

This year’s sponsors for the race were: GEICO, UCSD Facilities Management, the Guardian, UCSD Transportation and Parking Services, Auxillary & Physical Plant Services, CRMS, Imprints and Biotech Beach Law.



This year’s Triton Junkyard Derby winners:
Derby Champion: Team Gotham
Andrew Chan, '06,
Puneet Khattar, '05
Shraddha Chaplot, '06
Daniel Leu, '06
Joseph Formanes, '06
Pit Crew -- Yan Zheng, '04, and Vincent Bantigue, '05
Also won Best Theme

Race Champion: Mismatch
Stefanie Mah, '08
Anson Brune, '07
Mark Johnson, '05
Hayik Malkonian, '08
Josh Miller, '07
Best crowd support: Pepitos
Steven Bowers, '06
Christine Wengler, '07
Jason Wiese, '06
Tsukasa Toukahashi Rodrigo Calvo-Leni, '07

Judges’ Choice: The Preuss Chupacabras
Dan Rupert
Amanda Martinez
Adonna Anderson
Ricardo Vela
Cesar Cardensa
Maria Contreras
Melissa Balabau
Pit Crew -- Thien Nguyen, Raul Bernal, Pedro Adan, Abraham Fernandez, Angela Villanueva, Paul Ngugn, Ruben Valenzuela, Ryan Ashby
Source: UCSD Alumni Association
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