For the No. 9 ranked college formula car team in the world, the racing season is about to begin.
The team from Missouri University of Science and Technology will be in action April 22-25 at Virginia International Raceway. After that, the Missouri S&T team will take its miniature Indy-style car to Michigan Speedway in May and to California’s Auto Club Speedway in June.
Some 40 students are involved in every stage of creating the racing machine, from computer modeling to welding the frame. Each year, the students design and manufacture a new formula car.
In 2008, the S&T team finished second out of approximately 60 teams in Virginia. They also placed second last year in California and eighth (out of 140 teams) in Michigan.
At the competitions, which are sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers, teams from around the world are judged in several performance categories. Acceleration tests resemble drag races, while endurance tests require the cars to race for long distances. Judges also evaluate cost and design.
The miniature race cars are capable of traveling at speeds of up to 100 mph. Missouri S&T’s 2009 car weighs 435 pounds.
Multiple drivers from each team participate in competitions. Missouri S&T’s drivers are selected based on the best practice times.
“We started test driving the new car back in February,” says Aaron Young, a senior in engineering management from Valley Park, Mo.
The S&T team has been practicing in the parking lot of the local Lowe’s late at night. According to Young, they take advantage of the empty lot until 4 a.m. on some nights/mornings.
The team also took the car to Michigan and tested it in a Ford wind tunnel during Spring Break.
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.
The Universitat Stuttgart is No. 1 in the world rankings. In addition to Missouri S&T, the top 10 features the University of Wisconsin, the University of Toronto, the University of Tokyo and the University of Florida. The rankings are available at http://fs-world.org/ .