Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

May 05, 2003

U of G to participate in world's largest prototype race

For the first time ever, University of Guelph engineering students have custom-built a race car to enter in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition in Pontiac, Michigan, May 14 to 18. The car will be unveiled May 8 at 3 p.m. in the University Centre.

Formula SAE is the largest prototype race in the world, with entries from 140 universities. Fourth-year engineering systems and computing student Jeremy Goertz said Guelph has probably never entered the competition before because it doesn't have a mechanical engineering program.

In April 2002, Goertz starting recruiting other students to join the Guelph Formula SAE Race Team or, as they've become known, Gryphon Racing. "We had a little difficulty starting a team, but we persevered through that," he said. Goertz and three classmates spent last summer searching for sponsors to fund the materials needed to build the car, which amounted to $20,000.

Goertz, Ben Beacock, Rob Battiston and Jason Griffith, the key members of the 12-member team being advised by engineering professor John Runciman, are busy putting the finishing touches on the car. With no previous models to base their design on, They've put in countless hours outside of their classwork designing and building the car over the past eight months.

They've test-driven the car in parking lot P13 three times since April 2. Goertz, who is one of four team members who will drive the car in the competition, said they are in the process of becoming comfortable with the car. "This car has a hand clutch with a button shifter, so just learning that method of driving is quite a bit different than with any regular standard car," he said. "The braking is a lot more fierce, the acceleration is a lot quicker and the turning is a lot more intense." Although it hasn't been up to full speed yet, it should have a 208 kilometre capacity and accelerate from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in 3.5 seconds, he said.

Four dynamic and four static events take place during the five-day competition. The 22-kilometre endurance event is the main attraction, said Goertz. "You get awarded the biggest points for that event." Speed isn't the only criterion in the competition, however; all components of the car are analyzed by the judges. "The driving is just an exemplification of how well you've designed your vehicle," said Goertz.

Although it's taken a lot of time and effort to prepare for this event, Goertz believes that starting Gryphon Racing will help attract and employ future Guelph engineering students. "One of the biggest pushes for doing this is to get the name Guelph out there. I hope more teams will start evolving from this because you draw a different genre of student once you start entering these competitions."

Early on May 14, Goertz, six other team members and Runciman will pack the race car and belongings into the school of engineering truck and rented trailer to make the trip to the Silverdome in Michigan. Goertz said they hope to place in the top 50 universities because they will be competing against schools that have been refining their designs over a number of years.

Jeremy Goertz
School of Engineering
University of Guelph
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 52698, or

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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