The Formula Car Team from Missouri University of Science and Technology is
heading to the Virginia International Raceway for an intercollegiate
competition April 23-26.
Missouri S&T’s miniature Indy-style racing car has a top speed of about
85 mph. Crew members and drivers from Missouri S&T will test their car
against approximately 50 other teams in Virginia.
At the event, the teams will be judged in several performance categories,
including acceleration tests that resemble drag races, and an endurance test.
Judges also evaluate cost and design.
Some 40 S&T students are involved in every stage of creating the racing
machine, from computer modeling to welding the car’s steel frame. Each year,
the students design and manufacture a new car for various competitions.
Following the Virginia competition, the Missouri S&T team will go to
Michigan Speedway May 14-18 for another event.
According to one of the team leaders, Brad Leuther, Missouri S&T was
behind schedule last year and didn’t finish its car until it arrived at the
first event site. This year, the car was finished early and the team has been
testing it for several months.
Multiple drivers from each team participate in competitions. Missouri
S&T’s drivers are selected based on the best practice times.
Leuther says the 2008 car, which weighs 450 pounds, is faster and easier to
work on than the 2007 model. Last year’s car blew an engine due to oil
starvation, a big problem that has been addressed by the new crew.
“It’s so easy to over-engineer stuff,” says Leuther, a senior in mechanical
engineering from Fulton, Mo. “We evaluated everything this year and tried not
to make it too complicated.”
Several of Missouri S&T’s high-performance vehicles from previous years
have been sold at auctions, mostly to alumni, but the university keeps a few on
campus for driver training.