Formula SAE is a student design competition that was started in 1979 and was initially modelled on a similar student design competition called Baja. After a few failed attempts and some rule changes to increase the scope of the project, the Formula SAE series was born. The premise of the competition is that a fictional company is developing a prototype small open wheel race car which is targeted at the non-professional weekend racer. Your team acts as a consultant firm, and is tasked to bring your best design to the competition- where it will be comprehensively compared against your competitors. The design and fabrication of these small open wheel race cars is guided by the Official Formula SAE rules which ensure safety as well as to promote ingenuity amongst students. There are now 11 competitions around the world including the United States of America, Germany, UK, Brazil, Japan and Australasia.
The Curtin Motorsport Team participates in the Formula SAE Australasian competition which is affiliated with the Official Formula SAE Series. The Australasian competition began in 2000, and attracts teams from Australia, New Zealand and throughout the Asian region.
As part of the competition, cars are judged in two broad categories; static events and dynamic events. In static events there are three categories where teams are awarded points:
- Engineering Design – This requires both the submission of a design report detailing the main criteria of how the car was designed, and a detailed technical presentation at competition.
- Cost – This requires the submission of a cost report detailing the total cost of manufacturing your car, and a presentation at the competition.
- Presentation – This involves a presentation to a panel of executives to explain the business case for your car, detailing how it best suits the demands of the amateur weekend racing market.
- Technical Inspection – This involves 4 tests; rules compliance, noise test (vehicles must be no more than 110dB), brake test (ensuring all wheels have adequate braking force to lock), and tilt test (ensuring the car in stable in high lateral acceleration and that no fluid systems leak). These tests are in place to ensure that the car is safe not only for the driver but also for the spectators. No points are allocated for this, but if you fail – the car does not race.
The dynamic events are used to test the actual performance of the car and include:
- Acceleration – A 0-75m straight line test of your longitudinal acceleration.
- Skid pad – A figure-8 course to evaluates the car’s constant-radius cornering ability.
- Autocross – Single, timed laps on an auto-cross (tight turns, penalties for cone hits) style course to evaluate the car’s maneuverability and overall handling characteristics.
- Endurance / Fuel Efficiency – The main event. 22km of the autocross circuit, with a driver change mid-way as a test of the vehicles’ (and often drivers’!) reliability and endurance. A fuel economy score is determined from your fuel-use during this event, and a large number of points are allocated to reward designs that are both fast and efficient.
The overall points breakdown is:
- Static Events
- Technical Inspection = 0 points
- Cost = 100 points
- Presentation = 75 points
- Design = 150 points
- Total = 325 points
- Dynamic Event
- Acceleration = 75 points
- Skid Pad = 75 points
- Autocross = 100 points
- Fuel Efficiency = 100 points
- Endurance = 325 points
- Total = 675 points
Total = 1000 points