On May 6th, sixteen members of CWRU Motorsports and their faculty adviser, Rich Bachmann, made the trek to Mechanicsville, Maryland for their second official SAE race of the year against over 100 other teams from across the country and around the world. The team made small modifications to "the Model C," car #57, after competing in Auburn, and made the 7-hour drive to Maryland. At this competition, the team had their best-ever finish of 5th in the Endurance Race, 8th overall in the United States, and 14th internationally.
On Thursday the team unpacked the trailer, got settled in the paddocks, and members Tristan Dudik and Linda Relson gave a sales presentation to a pair of judges. Friday's main activities included the design presentation and technical inspection. We started the morning strong with the design presentation to a group of Polaris judges. The main topics discussed with the judges were the agile steering, high-travel suspension, powerful drivetrain, driver ergonomics, and robust braking. This presentation earned us 21st place overall, a respectable position in the rankings.
Day 3 of the competition brought the dynamic events: maneuverability, suspension, hill climb, and 100-ft acceleration. The car had a solid performance in these events. Our maneuverability run earned 23rd place, thanks to our steering, suspension, and differential. The suspension track was a tricky one, which broke a steering mount tab on our first run. On our second attempt, however, we had a solid finish where we tackled all the obstacles, and earned 22nd place. Thanks to a CVT with improved tuning, our car made it to the top of the hill climb in only 13.32 seconds, earning 28th place. In acceleration our team earned 38th place, and revealed additional room for improvement in our CVT tuning. This was the first time in many years that CWRU Baja successfully completed all the dynamic events at a competition, and we were thrilled.
Sunday brought the final event of the competition, which is alone worth 40% of the points for the competition. The course at Budds Creek Motocross Race Track was primarily a groomed motocross track with a few obstacles thrown in. It featured many steep hills, off-camber turns, moguls, and even a straight-away where drivers could test their top speed. Driving this race as fast as possible was strikingly similar to a 4-hour roller coaster for the drivers, Tyler Eston and Isaac Shyu. While other cars broke suspension members or rolled and had to be towed off the course, our car drove for the entire race, excluding fueling stops and driver change. We beat many teams up the hills and around the corners, completing 46 laps, only 6 laps short of the top team. This feat earned us 5th place in the race.
During the race, our transponder was not functioning correctly. This meant our laps were not being counted and updated online, so we had no idea how well we were doing. At the conclusion of our race, when the top ten teams are pulled aside for inspection, we were shocked and thrilled to find ourselves in the line-up.
Overall, the team placed 14th at Maryland, and 8th in the United States, our best finish ever. CWRU Motorsports is looking forward to attending the Portland, Oregon competition in the end of May and will spend the next couple weeks tuning and tweaking their vehicle for optimum performance there.