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Auburn’s “Greasy Railroad” Prank: Relive the 125-Year-Old Trick That Screwed Georgia Tech
Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images (left), Georgia Tech/Collegiate Images via Getty Images (right)

College football is a game of advantages.

Players will watch film to learn the tendencies of their opponents. Coaches will install new plays to switch up the game script. Programs will paint their visitors locker room to see if those interior design classes are paying off. All in the name of gaining the upper hand.

Legendary Auburn coach John Heisman relished in any advantage he could get. Just take a look at the lengths Auburn went against Georgia Tech on November 7, 1896.

Auburn’s Wreck Tech Prank in 1896

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The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets boarded the train. They were set to embark on the 111-mile journey from Atlanta to Auburn, Alabama, for a football game against the Auburn Tigers. As the convoy pulled into the Auburn station, the players prepared to get off. Only the train didn’t stop. It kept going and going and going until it reached a halt five miles down the road, nearly halfway to the neighboring town of Loachapoka.

Was it an engine malfunction? Did the conductor misread the map?

The railroad tracks held the answer.

In the middle of the night, Auburn students lathered the rails with pig grease, lard and soap with the intentions of making braking impossible. Georgia Tech’s train sailed by and the only way to make it in time for kickoff was a friendly five-mile hike. Oh yeah, they had to carry all their equipment, too.

Auburn, in their first home game in program history, went out there and walloped GT 45-0. The Yellow Jacket players were gassed before the game started. The plan worked to perfection.

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Although he denied any involvement, Heisman was rumored to be the one behind the prank. Luckily for him, Georgia Tech laughed it off and had a beer with their Auburn counterparts. On second thought, they were furious.

Oh well, Auburn fans couldn’t have been happier. They started a new tradition to honor the all-time prank.

The Wreck Tech Pajama Parade

Auburn and Georgia Tech played annually until 1987. When the heated rivalry took place in Auburn, Tiger fans couldn’t help but remember the first time the Yellow Jackets came to town.

The tradition of marching to the train station for a pep rally began shortly after the original prank, and there was a strict dress code. Since the students greased the rails in the middle of the night, fans wore pajamas. It’s been referred to as the most comfortable college football tradition of all time.

Sadly, the tradition ended in 1987 once SEC and ACC schedules started conflicting. However, the rivalry was rekindled for a home-and-home series in 2003 and 2005. There aren’t any plans to play anytime soon.

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Heisman is an instrumental figure in the sport of football. His crowning achievement is convincing students to make his opponent take a five-mile trek before a game. Or was it?

MORE: Auburn’s “Hidden Human” Trick Play Caught Everyone Off Guard

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Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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