The Overall Formula SAE West-winning car of the Texas A&M team entering Turn One
Yesterday (Saturday), I volunteered at the annual Formula SAE West competition. I mainly helped an Edmunds.com co-worker assist with timing and scoring for the 20-lap endurance event–about half of the vehicles finished if I remember correctly. Those two black “stripes” (see photo above) that run across the width of the course are the wires used for the electronic transponder. The braking force of cars slowing for Turn 1 and the stickiness of their tires kept lifting the tape. My co-worker, David, and I basically had to baby-sit that from 9:15 AM to a little after 2 PM. Every now and then, we would run on to the track while it was “hot” (cars running at race pace) to lay new strips of tape down and/or press the tape already there down more.
The location of the timing wires above was actually the first of two locations we used. During the first hour, one of the two lines was lifted off the track surface (but not severed) around the same time the University of Oklahoma car caught fire (Can you say “BOOMer Sooner?”) which brought out a red flag. We moved the timing stripes up the straightaway where cars wouldn’t be braking over it. The new location served us well for the rest of the day even though one of the wires was severed by a car that bottomed out over it (it might have been the UC Berkeley car). The other wire was unaffected and was able to still record the times of vehicles passing over it.
One of my favorite vehicles was the UC Irvine vehicle (I apologize for not having photos of the vehicles I’m going to discuss here as I was actually fulfilling my duties as a volunteer.). I think it had the nicest livery (a.k.a. paintjob) and the shell on the car had a nice design to it. It was cool seeing the UC Berkeley car breakdown. I know that’s not nice to think or say, but I’m just being honest. UCSD was registered, but didn’t show up. CSUN and Cal Poly Pomona put forth decent efforts. USC, UCLA, and any other UCs did not participate in this year’s competition.
Another vehicle I really liked was the Wichita State entry. The exhaust note of their car sounded just like a Subaru boxer motor! They also had a funny LED brake light pattern on the back of their car. I thought the exhaust note was so interesting that I had to ask them what kind of motor they had in the vehicle. They said they were using a Yamaha R6 motor with a custom exhaust. It sure sounded awesome! My interest in this car actually helped them later in the day (they don’t know this) because the person with the “run order” list said the Wichita State car hasn’t been on the grid yet when it was supposed to have been there. Because I had talked to them earlier in the day, I was able to inform him that they already ran. Did you all know that Subaru/Robin, a Fuji Heavy Industries sister company, have engines that power go karts? Subaru also announced the KX21 Sports Kart engine on Dec 7, 2006.
There was one car there that had a supercharger which was really cool to listen to as it drove by. One car had a turbocharger and a quiet blow-off valve. It ended up breaking. Other interesting vehicles included:
- University of Hawaii’s entry – it came to a stop on lap 12 or 13 after the first driver (the 20-lap run is broken into two 10-lap runs done by different drivers) started experiencing transmission issues (we all could hear its gears grinding) around lap 6 or 7
- Hunan University participated for the first time. Their vehicle broke on lap 12.
- Tokyo Denki University (or something like that) participated in this year’s event and disappointed me with their vehicle’s performance. However, I think it did well in terms of fuel economy.
Michigan State had a really cool entry. Above, you can see their car getting a little squirrelly while accelerating out of Turn 1. They finished in the Top 10 but were visibly disappointed with the result.
Here’s some video footage of Auburn University’s 2004 Formula SAE car:
This year’s Overall Top 3 teams were:
- Texas A & M University (making them back-to-back Overall winners)
- University of Kansas
- Auburn University
This definitely would have been an awesome thing to participate in while I was still in college! Oh well.
Keep an eye on this young man
Lewis Hamilton is a 22 year-old British rookie sensation taking the world of Formula 1 by storm. Today (Sunday), he won his second (consecutive) race to increase his lead to 10 points in the 2007 F1 Driver’s Championship (10 points = 1 race win). He seems to have his head screwed on fairly straight. I think he’s a great person for many young aspiring racers to look up to. Keep your eye on him and his adventures in the world of F1.
More Than Meets the Eye
Now that the hype/marketing machine is in full swing for the Transformers movie coming out on July 4th, I decided to jump on to the bandwagon by geting one of the coolest Transformers ever! Meet Smokescreen from the Transformers Alternators/Binaltech series. He starts out as a 2003 Subaru Impreza WRC rally car before transforming into his Autobot robot form. He currently resides on my desk at work. This particular Transformer is pretty difficult to transform. The fact that it is based on the 2003 Subaru Impreza WRC rally car makes me think little of its shortcomings as a toy. This Transformer movie should be a great addition to anyone’s collection! Just remember this Transformer as you’re watching the movie/extended GM commercial!
Lately, I’ve been craving taking a drive on a nice twisty road and going go karting. I don’t think I’ll have time to get my fix for any of those in the next few weeks. Who’s interesting in doing either with me?
Regarding my previous rant on the outrageously high stage in the “Praise Center,” I found sitting on the very end of one of the sides of the room seems to help a little bit.
I hope everyone had a great Father’s Day. If you are a child of God (John 1:12), never forget our Heavenly Father!