OSU Baja SAE team wins international racing competition


BURLINGTON, Wisc. – Oregon State University students in the Baja SAE off-road racing competition roared back in the final event – a four-hour endurance race - to move from fourth place to first, lapped the field and won the national championship for the second time in four years.

The students raced on June 11-14 against more than 100 other teams from universities in the U.S. and around the world, in which undergraduate students design, build and race single-seat, off-road vehicles that can handle difficult terrain. The series of events was sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

“We’re incredibly proud,” said team captain John Fellows. “We showed everyone we’re for real and our car can match up with anyone.”

Fellows said the team didn’t fare quite as well in some early events, such as the sled pull, but scored high in others such as the “mud bog” by tackling it early in the day while other teams shied away. That set the stage for a come-from-behind victory on Sunday in the grueling endurance drive, which also was the event worth the most points.

“There are a lot of bright students from engineering and other fields who take part in this competition,” said Robert Paasch, team adviser and an OSU professor of mechanical engineering. “I think what makes OSU special is that we’re really a team in the true sense of the word. We work together to get the best each person has to offer. And we beat the best teams in the world.”

This win adds to finishing in first and third places in a previous competition held in May in Washougal, Wash. Students from many of the strongest engineering programs in the nation participate in these events.

Many of the 16 team members in this competition are from the OSU College of Engineering, but there are also some participants from areas such as marketing and business. The winning car in the latest race was from the senior design project of several students. It featured a completely new power train with two forward gears and a geared reverse, rather than their typical single-forward gear with a neutral and chain-driven reverse. That design, the students said, made it very fast and particularly formidable in the endurance race.

All of the cars in this event are powered by the same 10-horsepower engines donated by Briggs and Stratton Corp., and in various events have to climb hills, maneuver around obstacles, crawl over boulders and endure a four-hour race. Judging also includes a sales presentation, design submission and cost reports.