After three days of negotiating hairpin turns through trees, across potholes and over dirt jumps, Cornell’s Baja Racing team finished an all-time best, earning fifth place in the annual International Baja SAE Carolina competition out of a 100 team field that included university teams from Canada, Brazil, France, Korea, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. The event took place from April 8 through April 11 at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville, South Carolina. The Universite Laval of Canada won the competition, with the Centro Universitario Da FEI of Brazil taking second place.The teams competed in two static events that ranked their respective cars’ cost and design and five dynamic ones that tested their maneuverability, suspension, acceleration and pull on the race course, with the competition culminating in a four-hour endurance challenge. Each event earned teams a certain number of points based on their performance.In the acceleration event, teams were timed across a 150-foot stretch of dirt. The pull contest required the cars to haul an SUV down a track, while the suspension leg consisted of treacherous terrain that included potholes, various jumps, rocks and dirt bumps.Forty-percent of each team’s points, however, were based on the endurance challenge. Teams were told to complete as many laps as they could around the track in four hours, with the winning team earning the most points.Alexander Kopache ’10, the Cornell team’s driver for most of the endurance race, said that there was “quite a bit” of jockeying for position among the cars and that several of them made contact with each other. He added that though “it was intense, it was a lot of fun.” Cornell’s team finished second in the endurance contest, only stopping twice over the course of the four hour race for gas.After the best overall finish in the team’s six year history, most were pleased with the results.“It’s the best that Cornell has ever done,” Scott Pendleton ’11, the team’s co-leader, stated. “We got second in the endurance, which has generally been our weakest event, so I was pretty happy.”Kopache added that though he was satisfied with the results, the team still had their sights set on loftier goals.“There’s still always first,” he said.The team, which consists of approximately 40 undergraduate and graduate students, had been designing and building the car since the beginning of the school year. Each member was expected to work approximately 20 hours a week.They received $25,000 in donations for the car’s construction, including approximately $16,000 that they solicited from company sponsors. The biggest contribution came from Toshiba, which donated “a couple thousand dollars,” according to Pendleton. Several other companies offered automobile parts or discounts at their stores, in addition to cash donations.The team will compete again between June 10 and 13 in their second and final competition of the year in Rochester, N.Y.
Original Author: Ben Gitlin