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  The Origin of GNCTR Bottom of Crest

The concept of the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race started in the spring of 1974. The Alberta branch of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) discussed the possibility of sponsoring an event similar to the Concrete Canoe Race held in the United States. Accounting for the rugged climate of an Alberta winter and seeking a suitable vehicle, they agreed upon the mighty Toboggan. Professor Sid Simmons from the University of Alberta was the first to spark an interest in what was to become the GNCTR.

Wanting to combine design skills with a fun activity, Prof. Simmons explained the exercise to his students. After much debate the students decided that their vehicle of choice would be a concrete toboggan. The Student Chapter of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) then took over the planning of the event. By January 20th of 1975 the students had set the rules for the First Annual Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race. Along with the University of Alberta, three other universities and technical schools were invited to participate; they were the University of Calgary, the Northern Alberta Insitute of Technology (NAIT) and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). The response to the invitations was incredible. Seven teams registered, SAIT sending four teams of their own.

On March 1, 1975 at the Canyon Ski Lodge in the Red Deer River Valley the teams made last minute preparations. At 2:17pm, several hundred shivering spectactors watched as the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race was born and the first sled made its run. Manning the sled that day was Andy Fox, Wayne Wonnacot, Gerry Richards, and John Straw, all were pushed by Dan Barnett. The team quickly made their way to the edge of the run and many startled spectators. After some redirecting the first team crossed the finish line, taking only 16.6 seconds to descend.

Each toboggan got three runs and the winning team was determined based on the best time. A group from SAIT championed the day reaching an approximate speed of 50km/h - completing the run in just under 10 seconds! It has been said that the most spectacular aspect of that first race was the unpredictable finish to each run as the teams crashed into a wall of hay set to stop the toboggans.

The trophy for "The Fastest Concrete Toboggan In The World" was presented to the team from SAIT by Ernie Homgren, then President of ACI. It was presented at the final banquet and awards ceremony which has also become a much cherished and anticipated event at every GNCTR. During the awards ceremony Mr. Holmgren expressed his wish that the GNCTR become an annual event for Civil Engineering students all over North America - it seems that his wish has been fulfilled.

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Other Sites of Interest:
Engineering Society | University of Waterloo

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Last Updated 23/02/99