McMaster Mini Baja competes in Baja SAE

June 17, 2009
Matt Green, McMaster Mini Baja

This past weekend, from June 11-14, the McMaster Mini Baja team travelled to Burlington, Wisconsin, to compete in the 2009 Baja SAE Midwest Competition, held at MGA Research Facilities. This being the team’s third year of competition, they entered a completely new vehicle. Having used the first two years to build up the experience needed to successfully compete in all aspects of the Baja SAE completion, this new vehicle was about taking more risks with the design. The Baja SAE competitions are organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers in order to give engineering students a chance to apply the skills they have learned towards a real world challenge.

Day one of the competition was spent putting final touches on the car and then passing inspection of the engine setup by Briggs and Stratton that generously supplies all the competitions engines. Day two involved the design presentations and technical inspections. With the team’s unique suspension design and drive train the team placed 22nd in the design report and presentation. The team again had an easy time passing technical inspection with only half an hour of minor fixes such as adding lock wire to the rear calipers.

Day three of the event was spent completing the first section of dynamic events. With the team’s five speed gearbox it was able to select the required gear for each event. This resulted in finishing fourth in the mud bog event by only 0.04 seconds behind third place. The team then finished 20th in the pulling event. Other events included maneuverability and acceleration in which the team finished 54th and 68th respectively. The final event of the day was the suspension and traction event that required the team to navigated large rocks, rough logs, and steep drops. The team finished 38th which then corresponded to its starting position during the endurance race.


McMaster Mini Baja team members in Burlington, Wisconsin, after just passing technical inspections at the 2009 Baja SAE Midwest Competition

The final day of the competition was the challenging four-hour endurance race. Like most teams, a few breakdowns were inevitable. The team first bent a front suspension link that was fixed and some extra support was welded in to protect the bottom links from the rocks. On the teams third last lap a valve stem was ripped out on a rock, resulting in a rear tire becoming flat and breaking the bead. The team continued driving, until with half a lap to go, a weld in a coupler in the drive shaft failed in torsional shear. The team had already completed enough laps to finish 68 in the endurance race.

Overall, the team was able to place a solid 54th out of 100 teams that made it to the completion. After three years of competition, the team is saying goodbye to many of its senior members that started the team. With a good number of young members now on the team they are confident that the McMaster Mini Baja team will continue to impress. The team would like to thank all of its sponsors that continued to support the team during this tough financial year. Special thanks to our top sponsors, the McMaster Engineering Society, Polaris, and Total Coatings – Powder Coating.

The team would also like to thank our Faculty Advisor, Dr. Nye, and the entire staff of the Mechanical Engineering Department for allowing us to use their facilities during construction.

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