BROOKLYN, Mich. - The Global Formula Racing team from Oregon State University last week went to Michigan, the ancestral home of the automotive industry, and won the 2010 Formula SAE national championship in collegiate car racing. (The initials "SAE" are a hold-over from when the competition was called SAE International, and once stood for Society of Automotive Engineers.)
The OSU contenders defeated 122 other teams from around the world, many of which had far more funding, long-standing support from automotive companies and tradition of success in this event. In Formula SAE racing, small, student-built racing cars are judged on many factors, ranging from speed and endurance to body design and even business presentations.
"In this competition, our team just dominated," said Robert Paasch, an OSU associate professor of mechanical engineering and team adviser. "This is just a juggernaut of a team."
OSU was part of a "Global Formula Racing" team, in which OSU students have joined forces with a group in Germany from Duale Hochschule Baden Wurttemberg-Ravensburg. That international collaboration, Paasch said, is not only unusual but also part of the team strength. Design, manufacturing and testing was done at both schools.
"Mechanical and automotive design is now being done by people working together from all over the world," Paasch said. "That's the way the industry works these days. So by getting used to that process, our students are not only becoming better at what they do, they're getting ready for future careers. Some people are saying this is the most innovative approach to student racing competition they've ever seen."
The Global Formula Racing team will compete in six events this year, but the Michigan competition is considered the national championship in Formula SAE racing. Two cars have been built, one that will race in North America and one in European competitions.
At the Michigan event, OSU placed first in several categories, including engineering design; autocross and endurance event scores; top overall performance in dynamic events; body design; new and innovative design concepts; endurance; and presentation. The awards brought the team about $11,000 in prize money, some new racing tires and a day of free testing at Goodyear's test facility.