By The Time You Read This……………

DSC_3602a.jpg…..the five key members of the S&T Baja racing team will have showered, done laundry, caught up on sleep, and even headed off to summer jobs.
Carl Lacy, Shawn Slinkard, Mark Luman, Matt Callaway and Casey Boyer survived a three-day road trip to Bellingham and Lynden, Washington, four days on site to pass all the competition events, and another three days driving back to Rolla. All without strangling each other.
S&T’s Baja SAE team, at 5 years old, is the newest competition team that operates under the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC) umbrella. As a younger team they’ve had a lot of learning to do and a lot or work ahead of them to be competitive with veteran teams. A few years back they won a mud-bog trophy, but this year they made great improvements in the more cerebral (and important) parts of the event, taking 13th in presentation and 19th in design.
The judges really liked the Miners’ custom-designed, lightweight transmission/differential combination, and another praised they crew as the best presenters of the dozen or so teams he had evaluated. Casey Boyer led the design by converting an old ATV transmission into a more compact package that saved a lot of weight. Low weight makes the car easier to thread through the hundreds (thousands?) of jumps, dips, turns, hills and collisions that the four-hour endurance race throws at drivers and vehicles.
The gear box worked great in Rolla; wheelies, curb-jumping, acceleration all went fine, and it worked as designed on acceleration, braking and practice at the SAE event, but on the hill climb things got dicey. Carl charged up the hill but had trouble shifting, so it was back to the trailer for repairs. Casey pulled the tranny, took it apart and found nothing wrong; every component worked fine,and the box was soon back in the car. Another run and things got worse as the gearbox jammed, and it turned out to be some broken gear teeth. The Miners had extra gears but were running out of time to practice and complete Friday’s demanding rock crawl.
They installed their only replacement parts too late to get any more points on the day, leaving only the endurance race on which to pin their total score hopes. Their acceleration score put them in line ahead of roughly 60% of the 100 or so teams out there, but the drive train gave up the ghost just as the endurance start line was forming and the Miners were relegated to spectator status.
Three detailed transmission examinations showed what had gone on, but not why. The baja team remains completely stumped by the problems, and if they can’t figure it out they’ll start from gear-shift scratch next year. Too bad that such promising results in the static events didn’t translate into racing success. They ARE happy with the car’s structural and suspension designs, so it looks like they have but one hurdle to clear for next year.
The other cars? Imagine about 85 cars racing “over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house they go”. All at the same time, on lanes barely wide enough for two cars. Roll-overs, some end-over-ends, t-bone collisions, one fire, and countless failed welds or sheared parts. No one got hurt, and the ones who flipped their cars seemed to be having more fun than anyone.