Covered in dirt and running on four hours of sleep, the Iowa State SAE Baja team has returned home from a successful weekend in Tennessee.
SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers, hosts three competitions each year for the “Baja” teams around the world. The recent competition was the first one this year and included 11 international teams and 77 national teams that competed for spots in each category.
Iowa State’s Baja team, which races under the name “Cyclone Racing,” placed first in endurance for the third time in school history. The team also earned second place in sales and sixth place overall.
“The fourth day [of the competition] is just the endurance race, which is four hours racing wheel to wheel trying to get as many laps as possible,” said Josh Adam, senior in mechanical engineering and business project director for the Iowa State Baja team. “If your car breaks, you have to fix it while time is still running and send it back out on the track.”
Members said the team's success came from the fact that it spent minimal time off the track to refuel and tighten bolts.
The competition took place April 14-17 in Cookeville, Tenn. The next two competitions will take place during the summer.
Iowa State Baja's drivetrain leader Zach Verbeck, said no Baja team has ever won all three endurance runs in a competing season. The team hopes to break that record, and it's been close in the past.
“As far as history goes, we won two endurance races [out of three] back to back in 2014.” said Nathan Eick, senior in mechanical engineering and tech director for Iowa State's Baja team.
For some members, their Baja membership has helped them land internships and co-ops because of all the things they learn while on the team.
“Companies know what you learned and what you did in Baja,” said Nash Johnson, sophomore in mechanical engineering and a member for Iowa State’s Baja team. “After being involved with Baja for a year… I got a co-op this summer and next fall.”
For some members, the last race in June when they travel to New York will be their last after graduating. Others will reflect on the past year and discover that Baja not only helped them through internships but also within the classroom.
“The hands-on skills associated with the equations and the concepts we learn in the classrooms, it really gets you to remember some of the things you might have learned back in the basic engineering classes,” Eick said. “[You] realize they do have some applications to future projects.”
The Iowa State SAE Baja team is eager to get back on the track this summer. It's also looking forward to bringing on board new members of all different majors and talents.