We’ve been able to support University of Michigan’s Baja SAE Racing Team for a second year with a donation of titanium. This year they will be competing in Gorman, CA; Pittsburg, KS; and Peoria, IL.
PTG: Your team did really well in the 2016 competitions – you placed 1st in two of the competitions and 4th in the other. Congratulations! What do you think contributed most to your success? And how will you use that success to help you in this year’s competitions?
ZS: Thanks! Yes we placed 4th in TN, 1st in CA, and 1st in NY last year to take our third National Title in four years, and more notably two in a row. This year we’ll be trying to do it again to become the first team ever to win three in a row. There are a bunch of factors that contribute hugely to our success. We have a fantastic set of sponsors, both corporate and through the University, some monetary and some in-kind like PTG. Without the great support we receive from all of our sponsors we wouldn’t be able to maintain such a high level of performance. Every year we design for mass reduction and durability. Last year we were able to cut 5% out of our car, resulting in our lightest car ever. We were able to design the car to be durable enough to complete 2 endurance races without failures, which helped lead to our two first place finishes. We have some really bright engineers on our team who are really good at what they do and continue to design great components and great cars. And on that note, we have a really great team dynamic. We’re all really good friends and if you put our team up against any other team, I’d pick us every time.
PTG: Back in November PTG was able to donate some 6AL-4V and 6AL-6V-2SN round bar to your team for use in your vehicle. Tell us a little bit about what this titanium will be used for.
ZS: Yes, PTG was very generous with their donation this year, allowing us to attempt changes that our team hasn’t been able to make before. We’re always looking to make our car lighter and a large part of that is making material changes wherever possible. We’ll hopefully be using the round bar in our drivetrain in order to reduce rotating mass as much as we can. Reducing rotating mass is huge for our vehicle’s efficiency and we’re really excited about the potential performance gains from the titanium. We’re especially looking to make components lighter in our CVT (continuously variable transmission) and our gearbox, systems that are a huge factor in our success and where we feel we can get large improvements from new materials.
PTG: Does this year’s vehicle already have a name?
ZS: MBR-28 doesn’t have an official name yet, we usually name them at the first competition. MBR stands for Michigan Baja Racing and 28 is our 28th year of continuous operation as a UM Team.
PTG: What part of the whole Baja racing experience do you look forward to the most every year?
ZS: That’s a really hard question. I look forward to so much every year. I really enjoy interacting with our sponsors and the U, as well as machining our more complicated cnc parts; but the part I really enjoy the most is the really unique combination of competition and comradery. The races are pretty competitive, but everybody acts like friends. That’s probably my favorite part about baja.
We wish them all the best and hope they reach their goal as first team to win three years in a row!
If you want to find out more about Michigan Baja Racing, visit their website: www.baja.engin.umich.edu