WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue Motorsports unveiled three of their newest race cars designed and built for the 2022 Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series.
Since 1983, Purdue students have competed in the event with custom race cars that they worked on throughout the winter and spring, readying the cars to race against other universities in the summer.
Many of these students faced a unique challenge that their predecessors never dealt – the pandemic altered the structure of how these teams normally functioned in prior years.
“Now last year, our teams actually did really well, because during COVID, it forced everyone to collaborate remotely. So that means they had to document their processes in more detail. In fact, that’s a major part of the SAE competition. It’s not just the driving; students have to also give a design presentation and a business presentation to showcase the decision-making that went into their team engineering choices,” said Jared Pike, the communication specialist for Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering.
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“We thought 2022 was a good year to host a public event,” said Adam Busch, a senior in electrical and computer engineering and the president of Purdue SAE. “For two years, we’ve experienced life through a screen. Now it’s time to throw open the doors and invite everyone to see these amazing race cars up close.”
The first car presented was Purdue’s Baja SAE build, which is a single-seat, off-road race car, designed to traverse any kind of terrain or obstacle.
“This year our team was able to cut 60 pounds out of last year’s successful four-wheel-drive car. Improve the turning radius and cornering performance and obstacle traversal. These features were also accomplished in our most aggressive timeline ever with a completed car, test-ready by March 5,” said Matthew Kuebel, president of Purdue Baja Racing.
“All this extra driving time has allowed us to find out that Viper can crawl an 18-inch wall of railroad ties,” Kuebel said. “It can also jump 5 feet into the air without bottoming out, and it can corner just as well, if not better than our previous two-wheel-drive cars.”
The second car unveiled was Purdue’s Formula SAE build, a single-seat Formula-style car with an internal combustion engine.
“A little about our car,” said Tyler Green, president of Purdue Formula Racing. “It has a 50-horsepower motorcycle engine in it, a 400cc Yamaha single-cylinder, weighs about 390 pounds without a driver, and all this gets you a car that can do 60 in about four and a half seconds.
“It’ll corner once it’s up to speed once the aero is working, at about two and a half Gs. Just for reference, your Porsche 911, your sports car will do about 1.2 or 1.3 (Gs) on a good day, so two and a half is a lot for our drivers.”
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G force is the acceleration you feel due to the force of gravity.
“I really think that with this car, with this team, with the testing we’ve been doing, the speed we’ve been seeing out of it, I really think we got a chance at the podium or a win.”
The last car unveiled was Purdue’s Electric Racing build, a Formula-style car specifically powered by electric motors. It’s powered by a 300-volt battery pack and goes 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds.
“This vehicle brings a lot of firsts for the team,” said James Hofstadler, chief mechanical engineer for Purdue Electric Racing. “Our first all-wheel-drive architecture, first water-cooled battery, and the first-time computer engineers ever walked into the Mechanical Engineering building. But seriously, this car is not to be messed with. It features an 80-horsepower drive train, that is intelligent enough to individually control the power distributed to each wheel.”
“It does this every 15 milliseconds, which is six times faster than you can blink and does it the entire time that the car is driving to optimize our cornering and our lateral acceleration through the turns.”
“I’m so proud of these students,” said Todd Nelson, the managing director of Purdue Motorsports.
“All of these teams compete in the Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series and to me, nothing provides a better experience on campus for these students than this. No other program helps them develop the skills that they gain here.”
Noe Padilla is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at 1NoePadilla.