Each year, the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) challenges students to create small, formula-style cars and bring them to their competition to be tested, judged and raced.
This year, teams took their creations to Brooklyn, Michigan, and competed at the Michigan International Speedway from May 16-20.
A total of 120 teams participated in the competition, but only about half were able to race their cars.
The Ozark Mountain Racing team, made up of Missouri State University engineering students, stood out even though it was their first time participating in the competition.
“This team continues to amaze me,” said Dr. Matthew Pierson, MSU associate professor of engineering. “They’ve earned the right to be proud of their work on their first race car. After thousands of hours in manual labor, they’ve achieved legend status in the cooperative engineering program.”
Progressing through the FSAE competition is an orderly process.
First, each team’s car must pass some tests in the form of static events:
- Mechanical inspection.
- Tilt test.
- Noise test.
- Brake test.
Also included in static events are business, design and cost presentations.
The Ozark Mountain Racing team passed all tests with flying colors and speed.
“This part of the competition is more of an engineering competition than a racing event,” said Katie Beckenholdt, mechanical engineering student and team president. “We were in the top 30 teams that passed these inspections the quickest.”
In addition to their quick advancement, the team received lots of compliments.
“Our car got praise for clever engineering and dedication to knowing and following the rules set by FSAE,” Beckenholdt said. “We also impressed the judges with our preparedness for the business events.
“Our design judge, Claude Rouelle, is one of the most esteemed figures in FSAE and Formula 1. He gave us great input and told us that we were the team he was most excited about seeing back next year!”
The second part of the competition consisted of dynamic events:
- Skid pad.
The endurance event took place on the last day of the competition.
“We competed in each event and landed in the top 50th percentile for most of them!” Beckenholdt said. “We were not able to finish the endurance event only due to a minuscule and improbable failure mode; our shifter handle came loose mid-shifting, fell out of the cockpit and damaged the sprocket upon landing.”
Despite this setback, the team still left a positive impression.
“It’s unheard of for a first-year team to make it all the way to the endurance event. This surprised the judges and other teams,” Beckenholdt said.
The team’s prized creation was made with many things in mind.
Their main goal during the initial preliminary critical design reviews was to keep the car lightweight.
With open wheel and cockpit designs, the formula-style car sports a chassis steel tube frame, a single cylinder YZ 450 FX engine, an unequal double A-Arm design with push rods and bell cranks and a body of carbon fiber and fiberglass.
“We chose the single cylinder engine because it’s lightweight compared to the other options,” Beckenholdt said. “The suspension packaging proved to be a challenge since we chose 10-inch wheels to accommodate our goal of being lightweight.
“However, we overcame this challenge and developed a highly functional suspension.”
In the end, the car weighed 423 pounds, which proved to be one of the lighter cars at the competition.
The Ozark Mountain Racing team has accomplished so much despite being together for just a year.
“Other teams competing were astonished that we’d completed the design and build of our car in under a year as an inaugural team,” Beckenholdt said. “Teams that have been doing this for decades have a hard time producing a car in this amount of time, let alone as a first-year team.”
The team members who attended the competition this year are:
- Luke Bolin.
- Marshall Brown.
- Grant Cary.
- Kevin Grisham.
- Michael Hardesty.
- Justin James.
- Sid Ketcham.
- Josiah McDermott
- Noah Taylor.
“We have incredible faculty and staff in the cooperative engineering program who supported us the whole time,” Beckenholdt said.
- Dr. Aziz Abutunis.
- Dr. Doug Carroll.
- Dr. Ryan Hutcheson, team advisor.
- Dr. Tamera Jahnke.
- Dr. Daniel Moreno.
- Sarah Morrisey.
- Angie Piercy.
- Matthew Pulliam.