Iowa State’s Baja SAE Team optimistic about off-road racer

Chase Schuette prepared a gear shaft for another dose of heat treatment.

Justin Upah attached plastic body panels to the metal chassis tubes.

And Eric Schluttner huddled over a 10-horsepower, Briggs & Stratton engine, preparing to finish and attach a safety cover for the belt that connects the engine to the transmission.

It was another busy day in the campus garage for the student-engineers of Iowa State University’s Baja SAE Team. The team is prepping for design, sales and off-road racing competitions June 8-11 near Peoria, Ill. The annual competition for student-designed and student-built off-road buggies is sponsored by SAE International, formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers. There are 115 teams – including teams from Canada, India and Mexico – registered for this year’s competition.

The competition’s big event is a four-hour endurance race worth 40 percent of the team’s total score. Last year’s team was in ninth place heading into the long race, but contact with another car, failed rear shocks and blown fuses in the electronics system dropped the team to a 28th-place finish.

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