Background

As one of the oldest competition teams on campus, GT Motorsports’ goal is to provide students with the opportunity to utilize their existing theoretical knowledge and acquire practical experience in real-life situations by designing, building, and testing open-wheeled, F1-style race cars in preparation for Formula SAE competition (FSAE). Race enthusiasts gather each year in Brooklyn, Michigan at the iconic Michigan International Speedway to participate in the largest North American competition of its kind. The event is attended by teams from the world’s top engineering and technological universities. Competitions with a similar rules structure are held globally in other countries including England, Australia, and Japan.

The engineering principles, fabrication techniques, and testing procedures students use for the FSAE competition can be directly applied to projects that encompass a wide range of engineering fields. In addition to engineering experience, students also learn valuable leadership, project management, finance, and marketing skills. GTMS offers students of all majors the opportunity to expand their knowledge in either their specific major area or another field in which they express interest. The ability to develop such a broad array of professional skills is unique to both this team and the Formula SAE competition.

The goal for this year is to develop the current car, allow for necessary repairs, validate the current design, and make improvements based on extensive testing before the FSAE Michigan competition in May. The team also plans to begin design work for F2019 in the spring. Throughout each stage of production, emphasis on knowledge transfer to new members, practical application of engineering principles, driver training, fiscal responsibility, and the organizational structure of the team remain at the forefront of the operation to ensure implementation of the most successful practices over time.

 
 

 
 

The Competition

The major focus of GT Motorsports historically has been the FSAE Michigan competition in May. It is the largest of all FSAE competitions held in North America and features top teams from around the world. Up to one hundred and twenty teams compete at Michigan International Speedway every year.

FSAE competitions are structured to test each team’s ability to deliver a small-scale production run of a competitive, formula-style racecar. The teams only build a single car, but each must effectively prove the prototype is cost effective and capable of being produced at a larger scale. The competitions are divided into two sections with multiple events, static and dynamic. Static events focus on the team’s understanding of business aspects of the event, including a full business and marketing plan, as well as documentation and analysis of engineering decisions. Dynamic events test the car’s actual capability on the track. Both are critical to a successful competition.

 
 
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Static Events - 325 Points:

Technical Inspection - 0 points

During technical inspection, the car is examined to ensure it meets rule and safety requirements. Inspection is sequentially divided into scrutineering, tilt, noise, and brake tests. After each test, a sticker is placed on the car, showing that it passed. The car cannot compete without passing technical inspection.

In the scrutineering phase of the inspection, judges investigate the car for any possible rule violations. During tilt, the car is placed on a tilt stand with a driver, where it is tilted towards the fuel tank fill nozzle. It must not spill fluids up to 45 degrees and must not roll over up to 60 degrees. For the noise test, the car’s noise output from the exhaust must meet the standards set in the FSAE Rulebook. The car is also tested to ensure the kill switch is functional. To pass the brake test, a driver must accelerate the car on a short straightaway and prove brake integrity by coming to a complete stop without spinning. All four wheels must lock, and the engine must still be running.

Business Logic Case and Presentation - 75 points

The business logic case is a document each team must submit to the FSAE Committee. It summarizes the business case behind the plan for production on a larger scale. The document highlights the production scale, targeted market, profitability, and key features.

The presentation is given to judges at competition, where two representatives from the team, usually the Business Lead and a business team member, showcase the car and team to potential “investors”. They must also be able to answer any questions the investors may ask. The judges should be treated as if they are executives at a corporation.

Cost Event - 100 Points

A cost report must be created and submitted before competition, which lists the cost for every part and manufacturing process required to build a complete car for production. During the event, a team representative must defend any conflicting items judges find between the car and the document submitted beforehand. Any inconsistencies that cannot be explained will be penalized in the final score. Teams are scored based on the final adjusted cost to produce their car. In addition, a real case scenario is presented to the teams requiring them to respond to a cost overrun or other production issue.

Design Event - 150 Points

The design event is the most heavily weighted static event. The entire team explains and defends design choices, testing, and analysis that went into building the racecar. Judges, engineers who often work in the automotive industry, question team members on their choices, and attempt to challenge every position a team takes and every fact the team states. They want to see that a team has validated every design choice, such as intake shape, suspension point locations, tire sizes/type, engine calibration, and chassis design.

A design document is submitted to support this event, which members and judges refer to when going over each system. The team is scored based on how knowledgeable the members are, the appropriateness of the parts used, and overall fit-and-finish of the car.

 

Dynamic Events - 675 Points

Acceleration - 100 Points

Each car starts from a standstill and accelerates at full power to the end of a 75-meter straightaway. The cars are scored based on the best elapsed time of four runs to complete the distance.

Skid Pad - 75 Points

Each car completes a Figure 8 course, with two laps going in the right-hand direction, and two laps left-hand. The cars are scored based on the average time between each half of the Figure 8. The best average time of the four runs is used.

Autocross - 125 Points

A cone course is set up for the cars navigate. With only one car on the track at a time, scoring is based on the time to complete one lap. Again, four laps are allotted per team. This event features several hairpin turns, slaloms, and short straightaways, putting the car through highly transient maneuvers.

Endurance - 275 Points

This 22-kilometer race, with multiple cars simultaneously on track, is the flagship event at the competition. Each car completes half the race before coming in for a driver change where it must start under its own battery. The driver change lasts 3 minutes at most and is often the critical turning point for teams. Endurance features a mixture of straightaways, tight turns, hairpin turns, and slaloms. Passing zones are periodically available to allow for faster cars to overcome competitors. The car is allowed to stall on the track, but must start up again on its own. If parts fall off, or the car is unable to continue in any way, it is disqualified and gains only 1 point per lap completed until the breakdown. If the team completes the race, points are awarded based on total time for the full 22 km.

Fuel Efficiency - 100 Points

Before endurance, the fuel tank is filled by track marshals. Afterwards, it is refilled, and the amount of fuel consumed determines the fuel efficiency score. Points are deducted if the fuel level drops after being refilled to combat cheating.

 

For more information, please visit the official website of the Formula SAE Series.