MSOE’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja team had the opportunity to compete at nationals this May in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The team brought their car “Big Red” a four-wheel drive, single seat, off road endurance vehicle to compete and go through a series of static, dynamic and endurance testing. 

In order to compete at nationals, the team had to submit cost analysis, design reviews, roll cage specifications and a business presentation to SAE International, the organization that runs the competition. They also had to pass four different technical inspections which they were able to do on their first try. SAE Baja then made the 15-hour road trip from Milwaukee to Williamsport hauling “Big Red” in a trailer to join 105 other teams.

“Dylan Alcorn and Brody O'Connor deserve a shoutout as they had to endure towing our trailer for 15-hours with a MSOE athletic van,” said Leo Pietruszynski, SAE Baja executive secretary and cosmetics team lead. “They also were leaders in the shop for the preparation of Big Red.”

Once the team arrived, their dynamic testing events began. Big Red’s weight was significantly heavier than the majority of other cars at the competition, so the team unfortunately encountered some overheating with their CVT belt. They decided to then focus their efforts into repairing and improving their car to get ready for the endurance race the following day.

“In the endurance race we still had CVT overheating issues due to the high temperatures from the heavy load the car puts on the belt as well as a few tire problems that led to us finishing in the center of the field. However, when we were on the track, we had consistent, competitive lap times that would've put us in a much more competitive position,” said Pietruszynski.

Although the team may not have had the successful results they would’ve liked, their experience at nationals testing out Big Red will make a larger impact as they get ready to test out a new vehicle next year.

“We learned how to be successful at nationals as well as what we need to develop for our current car, as well as Onyx, the vehicle that we are currently developing and fabricating,” said Pietruszynski. 

“Williamsport was an amazing learning experience for the whole team and made us even more eager to get out to the national competition in Holly, Michigan this September,” said Ameed Abidalrahim, SAE Baja president. 

To see specific event placing and times from nationals, view Big Red’s results