Student discusses Formula SAE performance

May 31, 2013

Chaz Mancino, a member of the Formula SAE team, writes about the team's two strong performances this month.

The Formula SAE team finished third at SAE North in Canada. Photo courtesy of Mack K Photography.

Charles 'Chaz' Mancino is wrapping up his freshman year at Kettering University. He's blogged throughout the year about his experiences on our Life at Kettering blog. Chaz is also a member of the Kettering University Formula SAE team, which recently wrapped up its second successful competition of the month. Below, Chaz discusses the team's performances at Michigan International Speedway and Formula North in Canada. Read the full archive of Chaz's blog posts here.

By Chaz Mancino

Blue body panels sporting white tear-drop graphics lie on top of a white painted metal skeleton, the white tear-drops symbolizing the tears that the members of the other teams have in their eyes as car 101 zooms past them. The words “Kettering University” spread the sides of the car with the front end brandishing the bulldog symbol itself. The Yamaha WR450 engine roars in the back of the car. The car named GMI2013 was in action at Michigan International Speedway between May 8 and 11, 2013, competing against 107 other teams from around the world.

Chaz Mancino

So how well did GMI2013 from Kettering University do against so many teams, including some of the world’s best, at Michigan International Speedway? After placing 56th in the business report, 37th in acceleration, 34th in skidpad, top 10 in design, sixth in the cost report and taking home the gold in fuel efficiency and powertrain development, Kettering University Formula SAE had its best showing in history, even besting the GMI days. Fifteenth. That is right. Fifteenth place. Overall. Out of 107 teams. With having one of the smallest teams and budgets. Looks like car 101 has schooled the competition.

Of course, the team’s history-making finish was as easy as teaching a flying squirrel how to fly. After spending the summer testing last year’s car for improvements that could be made, designing the 2013 car, building the 2013 car from the ground up from the chassis all the way to the body panels, and testing the 2013 car before competition to make sure everything was in proper working condition, it's safe to say countless hours went into making the 2013 car a reality. Special thank yous are of course given to all of the team’s sponsors, including Yamaha, Denso, Kennametal and the GM Foundation, among others, along with all of the support of the individuals who helped make GMI2013 a success.

Of course, the competition at Michigan International Speedway was not the only time that the Yamaha WR450-powered racecar took on the world. Formula North in Canada followed up the outstanding performance at Michigan International Speedway and another competition to be held in Lincoln, Neb., will be the last of the three competitions set for the season. Formula North was held from May 23-26 and the competition in Lincoln will be held from June 19-22.

What seemed like a Cinderella story at Michigan International Speedway became a reality at Formula North as the Kettering University Formula SAE team went from being a ho-hum competitor to a team that is breathing down the backs of world-class teams. In the city of Barrie, Ontario, the Kettering University Formula SAE team took home the silver in static events with a second place finish in both the cost and business events and an eighth place finish in the design event. Add that to a very competitive fifth place finish in dynamic events with a first place finish in the fuel efficiency event, seventh place finishes in both the acceleration and endurance events, and 12th and 19th place finishes in the autocross and skidpad events, respectively, and one has a podium finish for the Kettering University Formula SAE team.

After the results were tallied up, the Kettering University Formula SAE team took home a third place finish overall, falling only to École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Tallin University of Applied Science from Tallin, Estonia, both being two of the best teams in the world. The Kettering University Formula SAE team’s third place finish was the best finish of any team without wings and even bested several teams with wings. What is even more impressive is that the Kettering University Formula SAE team pulled a great showing at Formula North with, as stated before, a small team and microscopic budget when compared to the world’s best formula SAE teams.

Another impressive feat that highlights the Kettering University Formula SAE team is that it is made up of a group of college students who can work together despite being separated by possibly more than 100 miles during the school year while away on co-op terms. With all of the teamwork, support from sponsors, and initiative to not sleep until the car was race-ready, the Kettering University Formula SAE team has managed to become a threat to the world’s standouts in formula SAE. In other words, Kettering University Formula SAE has come charging out of the woodwork locked, loaded and aimed for the world’s best formula SAE teams.

Mobile. Agile. Hostile. Those three words blast in my head when I recall my old high school’s cross country team’s chant. Those three words can now describe Kettering University Formula SAE’s rapid, almost unexpected rise to the top of the heap of the world of formula SAE teams. As both competitions thus far have shown, GMI2013 is hungry for victory, and Lincoln will be another great chance to show off the car in action and will cap off a year of hard work just as a big, juicy, red cherry caps off a sundae. However, the taste of victory will be much sweeter than the cool taste of ice cream and a hot topping complemented by a cherry, nuts, sprinkles and whip cream. Whether the Kettering University Formula SAE team will become a world contender is yet to be seen. For now, the team has managed to threaten several world competitors and turn heads everywhere. As members of the Kettering University Formula SAE team crossed the border back to the USA with stomachs full of poutine and Tim Horton’s, eyes were set on the competition in Lincoln, Neb., and finishing up the season with a fireworks-worthy finish.