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This year for the first time, the Dartmouth Formula Racing (DFR) team placed in the top 10 in the annual Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) racecar competition in Detroit in May.
For six years Dartmouth engineering students have been contenders in the Formula SAE racecar competition to conceive, design, fabricate, and compete with small formula-style racecars, this year placing seventh out of 126 entries.
Many of the other schools have participated for much longer and have significantly larger teams and budgets.
"The best thing these guys did was to get the car running way back in March. They went through nine sets of tires just test-running the thing," said Doug Fraser, Research Engineer at Thayer School of Engineering and the DFR team's advisor.
"We weren't the fastest car out there, but the fact that we'd been driving our car since March gave us a huge advantage, compared to most teams," said Chuck Horrell, one of the team captains. "We were the only team that finished the endurance race - and all dynamic events for that matter - without hitting a single cone or going off course once. Our fast, consistent, and clean driving gave us fifth place in endurance, by far the most important event in terms of scoring. We were also fifth in fuel economy. What a great feeling!"
A formula car fits a certain formula of parameters dictated by a racing series. In this case it's an open-wheeled, open-cockpit, single-seat racecar weighing between 400 and 500 pounds with an engine less than 600 cubic centimeters.
For the purpose of this competition, the students assume that a manufacturing firm has engaged them to produce a prototype car for evaluation as a production item. Responsibilities are then divided among team members. For example, Aaron Buck and Fredrik Eliasson designed and built all components of the front suspension, steering and braking systems while Jim Bailey designed and built the electronic fuel injection system.
Scoring is based upon five dynamic events and three static events.
The overall standing of seventh place shows that dedication and drive can overcome a lot to compete with some of the largest engineering programs in the country, beating out schools like Brown, U. Michigan, Georgia Tech, Purdue, UCSD, and Columbia.
"It's great to finally have one of those 'Spirit of Excellence' trophies in the Thayer School foyer," said Horrell, "and even better to know that such a small team can, with the right discipline, support, and preparation, beat so many larger teams. I can honestly say DFR has been the most educational and exciting thing I've done here at Dartmouth."
2001 DFR team members:
Chuck Horrell, Aman Khapoya, Jim Bailey, Aaron Buck, Jordan Desroches (an undergrad) Jason Rathbone, Fredrik Eliasson, David Lidhagen, Rich Dickinson, Fred Deschamps, Angel Guarniz, Genaro Bugarin, Brian Nealon, Jared Pray, Alric Lam.
Nearburg Exploration, Crump Industrial, Ford Motor Co., Thermal Dynamics, Concepts ETI, Hypertherm, Steve Smith, Peninsula Foundation, Cam Techniques, Chris Dorros, Maclean-Fogg, IW Foundation, Raceway Ambulance.
Begun in 1981, the competition is organized by the SAE.
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