I apologize that I missed posting last week, but I was experiencing something that I am excited to tell you all about. Last week my Formula SAE team, Citrus Racing, travelled to Lincoln, Nebraska to compete in the SAE Lincoln competition, in which we completed two laps of a race. As bad as that sounds, allow me to explain why I am still extremely proud of the way my team performed, despite our shortcoming.
For starters, the SAE competition is a gathering of teams from around the world who have worked long and hard on small Formula-styled race cars powered by a motorcycle engine. The grading of each team is based on both static and dynamic events including design review, when the team heads present the reason for the design of the main components of the car; cost report, where every single part and manufacturing process of the car is given a standard price to estimate the cost of mass production; and then the dynamic events, the actual races. There are several types of dynamic events at the competition,testing different aspects of the car. They include: auto cross, which tests the handling and speed of the car; acceleration and endurance, which tests the fuel efficiency - because this is a very long race which pushes these student-built cars to the absolute max.
Arriving at Lincoln, our car was not totally complete. We started off by painting and attaching the body work in the hotel parking lot; I must say, it all came out very well. The next day we got to the airfield on which the competition was held and had to get our car past tech inspection. This is when the judges inspect the car and ensure that it passes all of the thousands of rules for the way the car can be built. Although we didn’t pass on the first try, we luckily only had to make small changes, such as the thickness of our headrest, and the color of our numbers. Next, we had to pass the sound and tilt test, which are more tests that show that our car is ready and safe enough to be driven in the race.
After the many tests were completed, we were able to head to the endurance race. However, on the way there, while making adjustments, we had a critical failure with our shifter, preventing us from changing gears while driving. Our plan was to leave the car in second gear for the whole race, but during the second lap it slipped out of gear and into neutral, preventing us from driving any longer.
Although we only completed two laps of the race I am proud to say that, out of the 17 years that Syracuse has had a formula team, and the three cars that have been built, we were the first team to make it onto the racetrack at all and pass all of the tests.
Our team worked together very well during the building and presentation of our car. And, the things we learned at competition will push our young team to do much better next year. The competition was able to show us exactly where our team was lacking, and we all know exactly what to change in the future to ensure our success. Despite the shortcomings during the race, I am very proud to be a member of Citrus Racing and to see our continuous improvement as a team.