FROM SHOP FLOOR TO DIRT RUN
Senior Project teams combine to create Mini Baja vehicle
for SAE competition
Laker Racing 2007: Teams Superior Drivetrain Solutions (STS) and Twisted Off Road Chassis (TORC) combined to create Laker Racing. Shown above in the group photo from left to right, back (standing): Matt Slaght, Tom MacMillan, Chris Valinski, Cliff "Chip" Cook, Jim Dilworth, Chris Winkler and Derek DeRossett; front row (seated): Jon Paul "JP" LaFave, Jeremy Jensen, Price McAllister, Andrew Kissick and Orlan Euale.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Mini-Baja Competition has been a long-standing collegiate contest that challenges the skills of both graduate and undergraduate students.
LSSU's School of Engineering & Technology, in conjunction with the local SAE student chapter, assembled design teams in preparation for the 2007 event under the umbrella of Laker Racing.
The project was broken into two main tasks: drivetrain and chassis. SDS handled the drivetrain responsibilities while its companion team, TORC, dealt with the chassis. The groups tested the vehicle in a variety of demanding off-road conditions.
Construction on the mini baja vehicle
Members of the senior project teams designed, fabricated and assembled the vehicle. Team SDS handled the drivetrain activities including design, construction and testing of the engine, transmission, rear axle assembly, steering, brake, controls and throttle. Team TORC used vehicle dynamics techniques to design the frame, roll cage and suspension.
During the final stage of prepping the vehicle and trailer for departure, one of the team's mentors, Sven Heikkinen of Continental Automotive, unexpectedly passed away. A decal dedicating the vehicle in Sven's memory was added to the driver's backboard.
Finally, the trailer was loaded and the seven selected teammates, two project advisors, project customer, and the lab engineer began their trek to Rochester, NY for the Midwest Regional Competition hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology.
On site in Rochester....
Team Laker Racing on site in Rochester: Pictured from left, back row: Chris Valinski, Tom MacMillan, Cliff "Chip" Cook; front row: Matt Slaght, Price McAllister and Jim Dilworth. Not pictured: Jon Paul LaFave.
The car was rolled out for the first day's grouping of activities. Vehicles were judged in static events. In the design category which included a report and evaluation, Laker Racing ranked 51 of 138.
The next category was the Dynamic Events consisting of Speed - acceleration, Traction - hill climb or pulling, Maneuverability, Specialty - suspension and traction, and Durability. The latter event took place the next day in the form of a 4-hour endurance run.
During the hill climb, the team realized it needed to shed some weight and pulled parts from the vehicle. On the second try, the vehicle made the climb and finished the event. The durability run on the second day saw Laker Racing completing 39 laps and finishing in 57th place.
The final tally...
The team was pleased with its first entry in the SAE Mini Baja Competition finishing every event and returning home with the vehicle still in one piece despite last-minute parts repairs. The team's final overall ranking was 76 of 138 with a total of 542.41 points of a possible 1000. The group was presented with a trophy for the heaviest vehicle.
"Thank you" to all of our sponsors!
The following companies were crucial to the success of Laker Racing's mini baja vehicle. Listed alphabetically, they are:
- Algoma Steel
- Briggs & Stratton
- Continental Automotive Systems
- Coullard's Body Shop
- Fox Racing Shox
- Hayes Brake
- Lynn Auto Parts
- Mancini Racing
- Revolutionary Engineering
- Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)