On the afternoon of May 20th, the team began their trip to their second competition of the season, this time in Pittsburg, Kansas. Despite some struggles in Texas, spirits were high that we would perform better and move closer to the top of the Mike Schmidt standings.
Day 1 – Engine Tech, Sales Presentation, and Downtown Pittsburg
The first day of competition began early for the team. We left the hotel at 6:00am to get in line for Engine Tech. Thanks to our alarm clocks, everything went well as we were one of the thirty teams that passed this stage of inspection.
The Sales Presentation was the other main event of the day. Based on the feedback we received from the Texas competition, Dave and Maude presented a new and improved sales pitch to the judges. The changes made must have been great as Dave and Maude finished in 2nd place overall!
During the evening, we took part in Bajas on Broadway in downtown Pittsburg – the town’s main street was closed off for a showing of bajas that had come from far and wide. Beginning with a police escort to Broadway Street, teams put their cars on display for locals and other teams to view. This made for a great evening for both the local and baja families.
Day 2 – Tech Inspection, Brakes, and Design
Another early start for the team as we prepared ourselves for Technical Inspection. Our first attempt went well – only one minor modification had to be made to our front bumper. As this and other refinements were being made to the car, members of the Design Presentation team prepared themselves with the the aim of returning to Design Finals. Success was achieved once again, as we were accepted into Design Finals and earned a 4th place overall in the event!
During the time between our initial presentation and finals, we attempted to pass the Brake Test. Hoping for a better outcome than our struggles in Texas, Stefan took the wheel. After accelerating down the runway, he hit the brakes only to roll to a slow stop. This signalled many hours of brake work ahead of us.
Day 3 – Dynamics Days with a touch of Brakes
After working on brakes all day and night, we were finally able to pass Brakes at 12:30pm. This meant that we had only 4.5 hours to attempt all of the dynamics events, a less than ideal situation. The events started strong in Acceleration, posting the quickest time of 3.539 seconds in our first run! Unfortunately, the day only got worse from there. Our second event was the Sled Pull. Our car and driver huffed and puffed, but were unable to move the sled a single inch. We moved on to Maneuverability with Nick in the driver seat, hoping to improve on his result in Texas. Despite his valiant efforts, a steering issue resulted in many cones being hit throughout the track, meaning multiple time penalties, and another low score for the team. The final event of the day was Suspension and Traction. Captain Alex was our driver for this event and with time for only a single run, we needed it to count. He was quick off the starting line, but he hit the first jump with too much speed, causing him to roll onto his side upon landing. The day was a massive setback for the team, but a top ten finish could still be achieved with a near perfect endurance race.
Day 4 – Endurance
We arrived at the competition site with plenty of time to ready our paddock, car, and drivers. The race began with us in pole position thanks to our winning acceleration time. We held the lead position for much of the first half of the race and even set a few hot lap times. Alex drove well to preserve the car and our pit crew of Jasmin and Dan performed their duties at an excellent speed. When Stefan began driving after hour two, we were seated in second chasing down Iowa State. By the start of the third hour Stefan had closed the gap to only a few seconds, but that was as close as we would get. With forty-five minutes left in the race Stefan had to come off the track as two suspension bolts had sheared. This problem was quickly fixed, but we had to bring the car back to the paddocks twice more for a kill switch wiring issue. The long walk back from the track to the paddock meant that we would only complete three laps in the final leg of the race, bringing us all the way down to twelfth place.
When all the points were tallied up, we finished in 15th place overall. This was a disappointing result as it was the first time we found ourselves outside of the the top ten in two years. Nonetheless, we performed outstandingly well in all static events, and have set new records for ourselves in both Sales and Design. Before the Illinois competition, we will fix our car’s issues and be prepared to have our best finish of year!
A big thanks to the city of Pittsburg for being so welcoming and accommodating during our stay, and another big thanks to the SAE and University of Pittsburg for organizing another fantastic competition!