What is Formula SAE?
Auto racing has long been a tradition around the world. NASCAR and its V8-powered racing started on the coast of Daytona Beach in the 1940's. Formula One got a chance to show their supercharged engines in the 1950's. In the modern era, motorsports such as Global Rallycross have been taking the world by storm. Motorsports still continues to be one of the most popular, highest revenue producing sport/entertainment industries in the world.
One of the most unique motorsports series, however, can most likely be found at your local university or college campus. This racing series can be identified as Formula SAE.
Formula SAE is an entirely student driven racing series, where college students are driven to design, construct and test a Formula-style race car and compete against each other in an array of various static and dynamic events to verify their design choices and rationales.
Many Formula SAE teams often divide design and manufacturing into various subsystems such as:
> Engine (Intake, Exhaust, Engine Performance)
> Drivetrain (Gear Ratio, Differential, Driveshaft)
> Frame (Chassis Design, Structural/Torsional Rigidity Analysis)
> Suspension (Motion Ratio, Camber/Bump Steer Curves)
> Wheels (Spindle, Wheel Hub Manufacturing)
> Controls (Shifter, Dashboard, Throttle/Brake Design)
> Electrics (Wiring Harness, Sensor/Data Acquisition)
> Aerodynamics (Fluid Dynamics, Composites)
Through the competitions, there are various ways to collect points and work your way to the top of the standings. Dynamic events involve getting the car on track and trying to make the best possible time in events such as Accel (Quarter Mile drag testing up to speed rate), Skid Pad (Figure 8 testing lateral grip), Autocross (Road Course Time Trial) and Endurance, which puts the car on a 22-kilometer course in an attempt to reach the finish in a fast time.
At the Formula SAE competition there are also Static Events, which typically involve some sort of presentation or verbal defense for design choice. The largest static event is the Design Judging, where industry professionals will critique students on their design choices and verification. A fast car alone will not win you the overall competition.
Formula SAE is such an innovative form of motorsports because it tests college students on not only engineering principles and making good design choices but also being able to meet deadlines, maintain sponsor relations and develop skills of young entrepreneurs and engineers.
Developed in the 1980's, Formula SAE has provided college students an opportunity to test their engineering prowess and shows no signs of slowing down.