University of Wisconsin Formula SAE Racing

UW finished 1st at MIS in 2007The Formula SAE competition is a premier collegiate engineering competition which allows students to apply their engineering principals in the design and manufacturing of a prototype racecar. The students must test the vehicle to determine which improvements will make the car faster, more maneuverable, or more responsive. Historically, these students have shown the fastest advancement in this country’s leading companies. In return, these companies support this project and leverage its graduates.

Members of the Wisconsin Racing team gain depth in their engineering knowledge while applying it to a practical application. Students exhibit a high level of dedication as they juggle their responsibilities to the team with an intense engineering course load. Although members are given the option to receive credit for their work, the time and effort they put in makes it evident that they are passionate about what they do.

As part of a world class university, the Wisconsin Racing team fosters an open environment for the exchange of new technologies and equipment. Students gain exposure to new methods and practices used in industry through sponsor-provided resources that are otherwise unavailable at the university. At the same time, sponsors are able to build relationships with these students who later enter industry with a competitive edge.

Wisconsin Finishes 14th At Formula MIS

Car in the paddock at MISIn May, Wisconsin Racing gathered at the grounds of Michigan International Speedway (MIS) with over 100 teams, from both America and Europe, to compete for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Foundation Cup. The competition started in 1981 and the cup has been claimed by sixteen different universities, including the University of Wisconsin in 2007. Other strong competitors such as Graz University of Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology and Missouri University of Science and Technology, returned to MIS this year. Also entered in the competition was the University at Stuttgart (Stuttgart, Germany) whose car had swept all three major Formula SAE competitions in Europe the previous summer.

This year the UW Racing team brought a vastly improved and extremely quick car to competition. The United Wisconsin Grain Producers E85 powered 210 tipped the scales at 393 pounds and delivered 82 horsepower, resulting in a power to weight ratio that was second best of all the teams entered. The 210’s single cylinder powertrain system was carried over from the previous year; however, major engine modifications were made to the KTM Racing Four Stroke powerplant with the help of key sponsor Forward Motion Engines. The team also incorporated a new turbocharger furnished by IHI. The powertrain system preformed very well overall at competition and made major strides over the 209.

The Wisconsin Racing TEamThe chassis group completely redesigned the frame and kinematics of the vehicle. The suspension system incorporated a new more complex upright design that was not physically manufacturable in house. However, with the help of sponsor Baum Machine the team was able to successfully implement the new design into the 210. The brake system also underwent a major redesign incorporating Tilton master cylinders, which combined with the new kinematics improved the braking performance by 30% up to 1.5 G’s.

Wisconsin Racing had high hopes for competition, posting faster laps times than the afore mentioned University of Stuttgart when the German challengers stepped onto hallowed Wisconsin ground for a week of testing. When the dust settled and the smoke cleared at the end of the four-day competition, Oregon State, a competitor of relatively unknown stature hoisted the trophy. Unfortunately, Wisconsin Racing could only muster a fourteenth overall place in the competition, largely due to issues with the electro-pneumatic shifting system that plagued the team throughout the weekend.

Testing the 210Despite the massive accomplishment of constructing a racecar completely from scratch, team was quite disappointed with the result. We could attempt to sugarcoat the result by digging into “what could have beens,” but, Carroll Smith, one of the founders of the Formula SAE competition, states in his book Tune To Win, “Don’t make or accept excuses. The familiar ‘We’re a second slower than the lap record, but, if the engine were fresh or if we had new tires, or if the sun weren’t in the driver’s eyes, we’d be a half second under it,’ is nonsense.”

We will heed the wisdom of the late Mr. Smith. What we will say though is that the life of the 210 has not ended. In less than two weeks time, the 210 with make another appearance at the famed Hockenheimring Formula 1 track in Hockenheim, Germany to compete in Formula Student Germany.

This competition in recent years has perhaps superseded the Michigan competition in stature. Here 78 international teams from five continents will compete for the trophy. This will be the first international trip for Wisconsin Racing since 2007. A few dedicated team members have remained in Madison throughout the summer months, further testing the car and improving its reliability. With a little luck on our side we could see great success across the pond.

UW has chosen DEI thermal protection products to help their race car maintain its cool on the track.

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