Make your project car faster | Advice from a Formula SAE team

By J.A. Ackley
Mar 25, 2024 | $2000 Challenge, formula sae, Project car | Posted in Features | From the June 2023 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Dave Green

What can you learn from a bunch of college students? Plenty, especially when they ranked third among a hundred teams at last year’s Formula SAE competition in Michigan.

That’s right, the University of Florida, which many know for its Gators football team, also has the phenomenal Gator Motorsports race team.

[This is what happens when budget builds compete against cars more than …

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BA5 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/16/23 9:46 a.m.

I was on an FSAE team way back in the day.  I loved it and it made me a much better engineer today.  My best friend to this day (20 years later) is someone I met on the team.

Good story, JA!

As a lifetime member of SAE, I think student design competitions are a wonderful thing. Sure, they are fun, but they show the students some real-world applications of the engineering education, and the opportunity to validate new concepts.  That goes along with all the lessons about teamwork, collaboration, documentation, cost containment, meeting deadlines and other things that are important in the corporate world.  

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
5/16/23 5:29 p.m.

In reply to Danny Shields (Forum Supporter) :

Thank you. One of my biggest regrets in college is not joining my school's SAE team (I went to RIT). The other one was bailing on a four-hour class on Thursdays because it was too long. That class was on publishing magazines. D'oh! Well, I think I did okay - I just had to learn the hard way, unfortunately.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/23/23 10:44 a.m.

FSAE made me a better engineer, for sure.  It also provided the spark that lit the fire that got me into the auto industry in Detroit 30 years ago.  Like i told the GT challenge team this year: when i see FSAE on a resume, it goes to the top of the stack.

GRM Challenge would also go to top of stack, but i've not yet seen a resume listing Challenge experience. Are you listening, college teams?  ;-)

MauryH GRM+ Memberand New Reader
6/24/23 4:50 p.m.

Back in the day...25+ years ago the Virginia Tech FSAE came to a few of our SCCA AX with some really impressive cars. The limiting factor seemed to be lack of seat time for the drivers. Too little time from the finish of the car to the competition.

Daniel Wise
Daniel Wise GRM+ Memberand New Reader
3/25/24 1:33 p.m.

Well done!  Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and gas was $0.32/gallon for premium, I was on the Cal Poly Pomona SAE Baja Taxi team.  The team race in the Baja 500 for three years.  He is a writeup by Pete Sigwart, who was the team chair for the project in '71 and '72.  Some lessons learned that helped me throughout my humble career.


J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
3/26/24 2:49 p.m.

In reply to Daniel Wise :

A Baja taxi! That's freakin' awesome. Thanks for sharing!

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