Winter 2014 in Louisville has been pretty rough compared to recent years; sub-zero temperatures, several inches of snow, and plenty of snow days and delayed schedule days on campus. While in Canada, we accumulated more snow in 24 hours (the 72nd consecutive day of snowfall in Quebec) than we had in Louisville this winter! Walking track to track on dynamic day usually meant sinking into waist deep snow at least once or twice and the tracks were not marked with cones but were just carved out of the snow that had accumulated over the past 72 days. Travelling from Montreal to Quebec City was interesting as we were the only team to attend that did not own a set of snow tires for their truck. We were clearly “Out of Our Element.”
Each baja car built at UofL is given a name based upon the personality that car develops during the season. The 2009 car was named the Chariot of Darkness for being the teams first all black paint schemed car. 2010, The Troop, for its black and white Stormtrooper appearance. In 2011 the car was named Leroy based on a World of Warcraft youtube video because like Leroy Jenkins in the video, Leroy has a tendency to do whatever it wants at times. In 2012, car built Junior; a car that is nearly identical to Leroy with only minor changes to fix mistakes made on Leroy.
Early in the season the team decided that the 2013 car was going to be the team’s first girl because of the curves and hips given to the car’s shape with the new carbon fiber body. So that was part one of the process for naming the car. At the first and second competitions, the car had a tendency of getting “lost” on the endurance track. The car would break down and because the team had no way of seeing or communicating with the driver, they would have no idea where the car was until it appeared in the pits being towed by an ATV; thus, it got “lost.” The car was then aptly named Carmen after the computer game character from the 80’s and 90’s Carmen Sandiego.
This recurring theme of getting lost in the woods not only inspired the name for Carmen but, also became an appropriate title to our 2013 season video. And so without further ado, the 2013 University of Louisville Baja team presents Lost in the Woods.
On September 28th, sixty cars representing twenty-four universities lined up for the start of the fifth installment of Louisville SAE Baja’s Midnight Mayhem! This unofficial SAE Baja endurance race takes place in late September every year as an event to help team recruit and retain new members and also provide a much more laid back competition environment to come out and have fun racing the cars that they’ve all spent countless hours designing and building. Since 2008, the event has grown each year and has now become the premier off season event for teams to attend! The event is held at Podium 1 Motoplex in Charlestown, Indiana where during the day, dynamic events are held to test individual aspects of the cars and then at 8:00 PM the four hour endurance race begins under the lights!
The University of Louisville fielded three cars this year hoping to sweep the podium and place first, second, and third. During the day, the 2013 and 2011 cars were very productive placing 1st and 2nd in the drivetrain event and 2nd and 3rd in the maneuverability event!
Just before 8:00, the cars lined up at the starting line, four rows of fifteen cars, for the land rush style start. The 2011 and 2013 Louisville cars gridded in the front row ready to lead the field onto the circuit. When the green flag waved, the 2013 car quickly jumped to the front and never looked back! After one lap, a ten second gap between first and second had been made. As the race went on the field thinned but, for Louisville the 2011 and 2013 cars were in 1st and 3rd place with McGill University in 2nd. As the race drew to a close, McGill had drivetrain issues bumping the 2011 car up to 2nd place! Once again, the University of Louisville took home the victory an astounding six laps ahead of 2nd place, the 2011 UofL car! Ohio State University took home third place.
For pictures and information on Midnight Mayhem please visit our Midnight Mayhem Facebook Page!
The Louisville Baja SAE team completed its best season in school history in June! The team placed top ten in all three international competitions in which over one hundred schools from across the country and other countries like Canada, Mexico, and Brazil competed.
Coming off of the school’s previous best season placing 5th and 9th overall in the two competitions the team attended in 2012, the Louisville Baja team looked to improve upon their vehicle’s performance and make the leap from top ten to on the podium in 2013. The design team developed a vehicle that was fifty pounds lighter than the 2012 model and had a more efficient drivetrain making the 2013 vehicle faster than any previous U of L Baja car.
The 2013 competitions began in late April in Cookeville, Tennessee. The team battled major reliability issues with the new vehicle throughout the entire race weekend; however, the team managed to secure an 8th place overall finish in the competition along with an award for First Place in Vehicle Design over Cornell University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County!
In May, the team headed to the West Coast for the second installment of the Baja SAE season. With not all but, the majority of the reliability issues resolved, the team placed 5th overall in Washington by placing in the top ten in all but two events at the competition. The team again placed in the top three in Vehicle Design receiving second place; the University of Maryland Baltimore County just edged out the top spot.
The final competition was held in Rochester, New York in early June. The team started off well placing third in Vehicle Design, fourth in Acceleration, and ninth in Hill Climb. Problems arose for the team in Maneuverability and Suspension and Traction in which both events the team did not complete the courses. The team knew that in order to have a high finish overall in the final competition they had to perform extremely well in the Endurance Race. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor had won the previous two endurance races this season and they were going to be a tough team to beat in the final race. After nearly four hours of racing only seconds separated the Cards from the Wolverines with only one, two and half mile lap remaining. In the final turns of the race, the Louisville driver passed Michigan taking the checkered flag by only two seconds! This victory in the endurance race hurdled the team to a Second Place in Overall Performance award for the final competition of the season! This is the highest finish a team from U of L has ever received and also the highest three combined finishes for a single season from a U of L team!
The Louisville Baja SAE team is looking to better itself in the coming 2014 season and is currently underway with the design of the new vehicle that will propel them to the number one spot on the leaderboard.