On June 6th, Bingham's Best Brand made the trek out to Madison, Wisconsin for the 2012 Baja SAE Midwest Series competition. The team consisted of five returning members and ten rookies. The competition took place over four days starting early on June 7th and ending at noon on the 10th. After the first day of safety inspections, came the design competition, where a team of eight judges moved from car to car and evaluated their designs. Everything from the body panels to the drive train were discussed as judges took notes, then deliberated afterwards about the car and how well the team presented the information and understood the engineering process. CWRU placed 16th out of 114 cars in the design portion of the event, a personal best for the team in this event.
Over the next day, the team competed in the dynamic events against 101 other teams who passed the technical inspection, which included acceleration, maneuverability, suspension and traction, mud bog, and a sled pull. Acceleration was a standard 100 ft course where the fastest time won and Zoha Imam placed in the top half of the teams. For maneuverability it was a course made with hay bales that had tight turns and a figure eight at the end where Alyssa Wolff drove the car and finished in the mid-seventies out of all of the teams. For suspension and traction, the course included parts of the endurance track as well as a two foot diameter tree lovingly named "Big Bertha" by the event coordinators. Car 78, with Jacob Rhodes driving, tied with about twenty other cars in the top half by making it to Big Bertha, but not being able to make it over. For the mud bog there was a giant concrete pool full of mud that Jordan Cluts crossed, placing about 17th overall, one of their best finishes in this event. For the sled pull (pictured above), CJ Valle towed a progressive sled that became heavier as the car moved further along, and placed in the seventies. After weighting each score appropriately, the team was in 36th place going into the final day.
The final day featured the endurance race. The spectators got their first glance at all of the cars as they popped up over the first hill and turned to go right back down towards the rest of the track. About 30 seconds into the first lap, disaster struck and the new engine on car 78 stopped working. After getting towed, it was determined that there was something wrong with the engine. About an hour and a half in, Briggs & Stratton gave the team a new engine because they could not fix the one that was on the car. After installing the engine, the car raced for the remaining less-than half of the race and finished about sixteen laps, 75th in that event. Later it was determined that one of the pistons had a manufacturing defect that caused the engine to not function.
At the end of the long weekend, the team finished 70th out of 114 cars that were there. The team is looking forward to next year where they can design their new car with some suspension improvements and an extra engine.
Posted by Alyssa Wolff on November 5, 2012