A need for speed combined with powerful ingenuity is quickly accelerating at San Diego State. Car enthusiasts with a competitive edge may find the Aztec Racing Formula SAE Team is just the type of organization they’ve been looking for to fulfill their dreams of building and racing cars.
SDSU Formula SAE Team is part of the Society of Automotive Engineers, a nonprofit student-run organization. The Society of Automotive Engineers is not only a college-affiliated organization, but is part of SAE International, a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial vehicle industries.
According to Storm Sturckow, a business management junior and SDSU Formula SAE’s VP of Business and Sponsor Relations, there are about 40 members of SDSU formula SAE, and each member’s commitment is vital to the organization’s success.
Membership in SDSU Formula SAE is open to all students with an interest in cars and racing, although previous experience with cars or welding is preferred. Sturckow said he has always been interested in joining the organization because of his love for cars and desire to pursue a career in car marketing. However, like many students, he assumed the organization was only open to engineering majors.
“Realistically, I probably would have done it my freshman year, but I thought it was only for engineering students,” he said.
SDSU Formula SAE is comprised of nine fields, including electronics, engine, chassis, suspension, drive train, body, brakes, driver controls and business. Although time commitment is extensive during the building phase, each field works independently from the others in order to ensure the most efficient and productive use of members’ time. The executive board conducts weekly meetings every Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and executive board elections are held each year.
Every year, SDSU Formula SAE builds one car, made basically from scratch. Everything except the wheels, exhaust and engine are 100 percent student-made, including the fiberglass paneling and gas tank. This enables an overall reduction in cost, center of gravity, height and mass of the car.
All necessary equipment is in the shop and accessible for use by all members. This year’s race car costs approximately $5,000 and includes a Suzuki GSXR-600 four-stroke engine, programmable electronic fuel injection, carbon-fiber body work, four-wheel independent suspension, 13-inch Keizer aluminum racing wheels and custom disc brakes. The engine generates more than 100 horsepower enabling the car to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in an astonishing 4.2 seconds.
Production of next year’s racecar will begin on Oct. 12, and noticeable progress will be made each week in preparation for the 2012 International Formula SAE Race that will be held June 20-23 in Lincoln, Neb. As many as 120 college teams from around the world compete each year in both dynamic and static events. Dynamic events test the teams’ engineering abilities and include endurance, autocross, skid pad, acceleration and fuel economy. Static events, such as cost, design and business presentation highlight the teams’ organizational skills.
Aside from this annual main race, the team occasionally competes in local autocross races at Qualcomm Stadium. Sturckow said one of his favorite aspects of the team is it brings kids out of the classroom and offers hands-on experience.
Sturckow, who is in charge of sponsorships for the team, said the budget is composed of corporate sponsorships, some school funding and donations from alumni, usually totaling less than $1,000. The proposed sponsorship goal for next year’s race car is $20,000, and Sturckow is aiming to add big names such as Ford and Exxon to the sponsorship list.
The team’s most recent sponsor is Motul, a company that produces and distributes lubricants for engines. Motul sponsors racing teams in Russia and Japan. The SDSU Formula SAE team is the first in the U.S. to be sponsored by Motul.
More information about the operations of the team and how to join can be found at fsae.sdsu.edu.