Rocket Motorsports has Top 20 showing at SAE competitionWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of Toledo Formula SAE team raced its student-built car to an 11th place finish at Formula SAE Michigan, a competition featuring 120 colleges and universities from around the globe, at Michigan International Speedway May 9-12.
“We were really hoping for a top 10 finish, but we had a lot of strong compliments about the car,” team leader Lucas Kizer said. “I think the car could have placed better, but unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side in that aspect. I think we did very well as a team. We didn’t get top 10, but we were in the top 10 percent.”
According to the Formula SAE website, the organization “promotes careers and excellence in engineering as it encompasses all aspects of the automotive industry including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management and finances. Formula SAE takes students out of the classroom and allows them to apply textbook theories to real work experiences.”
Competitions test the design and performance of vehicles with categories such as cost, presentation, design, acceleration, skid pad, autocross, endurance and economy.
The majority of the 12 students on Toledo’s team are engineers, including Kizer, who is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. However, the club is open to all students and has even included accounting majors in the past.
“I really like the opportunities it presents in the professional world,” Kizer said. “I’ve learned more about cars in the past four years then I’ll ever learn in my life. It’s amazing how much you learn working on them for a couple hours every day. You get to work on almost every part of the car and learn a little bit about everything.”
As team leader, Kizer organizes schedules for the build. He said it can be difficult working around class schedules, homework and studying, but school always comes first.
The budget for this year was approximately $50,000. The project is funded by Dana Corp, Cooper Tire and several local machine shops. Cooper Tire donates tires, and the machine shops do any specialty work that can’t be completed in-house. The team’s official adjusted cost for Formula SAE Michigan was $11,757; Toledo finished in 28th place in the cost event.
“The build went really well,” Kizer said. “It’s a really well-thought-out car. We focused on integration between different subgroups. Suspension talked with chassis about where they would like to put their shocks and things like that. It made for a much cleaner and overall well-built car.”
Kizer said the project was finished later than intended, but the team still had more than three weeks to test the car before competition.
“When we got to competition, the car was ready to go,” he said. “We went through our morning checklist, and then we just sat there. There were a lot of teams frantically working on their cars, but we didn’t have anything to do. It was quite nice knowing we built something that reliable and ready-to-go.”
The car’s reliability played a major role in their success as the team’s top finish came in the 20-lap, 14-mile endurance race. The driver avoided any penalties for hitting cones or going off-course and finished at 19:39.746 for eighth place.
“Reliability is a key factor,” Kizer said. “One of the best ways to test that is to drive it until something breaks, fix it and continue driving.”
Toledo returns to competition May 24-27 for the Formula North 2012 event at the Barrie Molson Center in Barrie, Ontario.