Baja SAE Gets Underway For Real

Baja11DSC_8671.jpgYesterday’s monsoon left the track a mess, but cool breezes early today changed things quickly. By noon winds had picked up enough that walking was comfortable, but only on the facility’s upper reaches. The valley floor was a different story (more on that later).
On day #1 the Miners almost cleared tech inspection without incident, but one judge had a different interpretation of a chassis rule. That meant once the night-time tornado danger passed they welded steel braces into #45’s floorboards before trying to pass on a retest. Then they car sailed through tech and acceleration, leaving the students free to tackle the hill climb and swim test.
SUN_7113b.jpgSwim test? Yes, a 300-yard swim. S&T’s car showed amazing stability in the lake, but due to a faulty tunnel design it wasn’t very fast. It was so “not very fast” that when it tacked into the wind, it essentially stopped. Dead in the water.
Once towed to shore, they talked devised a plan to direct water backwards, thereby (hopefully) moving the car forward. While those plans jelled they tackled the maneuverability and traction courses. And that’s where the valley floor comes into play………
Where did all that rain go? The same place where the dynamic maneuver and suspension tests were laid out. The heavy rains turned the courses into deep muck. So thick in places that cars could neither maneuver or find traction, so course workers quickly wore themselves out pushing cars from the mire. The Miners slogged through both events attempting to rack up points, and even managed to handle the hill climb, acceleration and tilt tests.
Baja1102DSC_8818.jpgThat means tonight is dedicated to moving the fenders closer to the rear tires so the deep tread develops thrust and directs as little water forward as possible.
Finally they altered the wheel fairings enough to get some “traction” in the water, and tried again, this time successfully, if not terribly fast.
At 9:00 a.m. tomorrow 50+ plus Baja SAE cars will line up in orderly rows, and then the chaos will begin. Four hours of hill climbs, railroad-tie jumping, swimming, collisions, breakdowns, roll-overs, you-name-it, all designed to test the long-term performance of each team’s design.
See you out on the track!