On April 8th, eight members of CWRU Motorsports and their faculty adviser, Rich Bachmann, made the trek to Auburn, Alabama for their first international race of the year against roughly 100 other teams from across the country and around the world. The team worked tirelessly in the days leading up to the event, using every last minute to tweak and tune "the Model C," car #91, for optimal performance before packing up the trailer and making the 14 hour drive to Auburn.
On arrival Thursday afternoon, members Tristan Dudik and Linda Relson, low on sleep but eager to impress, gave the sales presentation to a group of three judges, landing 14th place and getting the team off to a great start. Friday, technical inspection and design presentations were the order of the day. Unfortunately, severe weather delayed technical inspections by hours, but thanks to some quick fixes on the car by Captain Nick Bi, Kevin Miller and Genesis Mlakar, the car passed inspection early Saturday morning and was ready to race with plenty of time to spare. The design presentation started well, with the car weighing in at 353 lbs, a new record for CWRU Motorsports. Tristan Dudik wowed the judges with an all-new, high-travel suspension and 3D-printed (DMLS) front knuckles while CJ Valle and Linda Relson showed off a new drivetrain featuring a Detroit Gearless Locker differential and a reverse gear, a first for CWRU. The team ended up in 20th place overall in design, a strong showing that more than doubled the number of points earned last year.
Day three brought the dynamic events - acceleration, maneuverability, hill climb and suspension. The car performed exceedingly well in acceleration, placing 10th with a 100 ft time of 3.88 seconds. The new high-travel suspension and differential proved successful in maneuverability as well, earning 23rd place in an event where CWRU has historically struggled to complete the course. A 32nd place finish in hill climb and a 47th place finish in suspension rounded out the day, putting CWRU in a respectable 28th place overall before the endurance race.
Sunday was the endurance race. Veteran driver Alex "THE JEGS" Letwin started the race, only to discover a weakness in the front knuckles minutes into the event - the front right brake caliper mount failed, and CWRU was towed off the track. The team worked feverishly for two and a half hours to rebuild the broken part, ultimately welding a new mount on to the damaged knuckle in order to re-enter the race. With little more than an hour left in the four hour race, rookie driver Tyler Eston took to the field to round the track 10 times before time expired, earning the team 58th place in endurance, an excellent finish for a team that spent more than half the race repairing their car.