Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
May 04, 2004
U of G racers to unveil first-of-its-kind car
An all-wheel-drive race car designed and built by University of Guelph engineering students for an international competition will be unveiled Friday at 1 p.m. in the University Centre courtyard.
The vehicle will be the only one of its kind at the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) competition, which will run May 19 to 23 in Michigan. The largest prototype race in the world, the event is expected to attract entries from some 140 universities. This is the second year U of G has participated.
“Our car will be the first all-wheel-drive car ever to compete,” said engineering student Jason Griffith, co-manager of Guelph’s FSAE race team. “The cars in the competition are generally so light and so powerful that the rear wheels are always spinning when you go around corners or accelerate.” Having four-wheel-drive will improve the car’s traction and control. The car built by the U of G students can go from “zero to 60" in about four seconds, Griffith said.
Teams have always had the option of building and entering all-wheel-drive cars but it’s never been done before because of the complexity, he explained. “You need a lot more components. We just started talking about doing it, started brainstorming, and decided to give it a try.”
Haldex, a global supplier of car and truck products based in Sweden, provided the four-wheel-drive equipment and technical support. Other sponsors helped fund the materials needed to build the car, which cost upwards of $30,000 to create. About 15 students have been working on the project over the past year, and construction began in January in the on-campus vehicle services shop. Engineering student Ben Beacock, who co-manages the race team with Griffith, did the majority of the design work and has been overseeing construction of the vehicle. The group has been advised by engineering professor John Runciman.
U of G is sending a team of 12 to Michigan, including four drivers. The competition features static and dynamic events, including a 22-kilometre endurance race, which is the main attraction. “The endurance event is head-to-head racing, you’re pushing the car to the limit,” Griffith said. Speed isn't the only criterion in the competition, however; all components of the car are analysed by the judges.
Last year, Guelph placed 47 out of 130 teams overall and was the third-ranked rookie team. “This year, placing in the top 20 would be nice,” Griffith said. “My personal goal is to finish all of the events, and if we finish the endurance race, we can do it.”