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ASU students creating race car from scratch for upcoming competition

A group of Arizona State University students are all about fast cars. In fact, they are creating a Formula One style car from the ground up for a 2017 competition.

Most of the students that are part of ASU’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers team are engineering students, and they spend months designing, buying parts for and ultimately creating about 75 percent of the car themselves.

“The entire [car] is in a computer,” said Troy Buhr, team captain and a senior at ASU. “Every nut, bolt, washer, everything about that car is modeled online.”

The team does have to buy parts like the tires and they use an engine from a motorcycle, but they create the chassis and plan to install a brand new aerodynamic package for their 2017 car. The goal is to give the race car more grip on the track, which should result in better performance. The team has already designed the car, and will start building it this month. Buhr is expecting the car to cost around $40,000, with much of that money raised through sponsorships. He said one of the other improvements he hopes to make this year has to do with the team itself.

“There’s always so [many] problems with organization, getting the team together [and] getting the team on the same page,” Buhr said. “These past few years we just haven’t had a really cohesive team.”

Buhr is hoping this year will be different. Dozens of students are currently part of the ASU Formula SAE team. All of them will be needed to get the 2017 car ready for a national Formula SAE competition in Lincoln, Nebraska in June. It will feature about 80 teams from colleges all over the country.

“It’s a variety of events that really test how well our overall design of the car is,” Buhr said.

Teams will be judged on their designs as well as acceleration and breaking. They will also take part in a time trial and an endurance test on a road course set up at the city’s airport.  The team finished near the bottom of the standings a year ago, but Buhr is expecting the new improvements to the car to raise their place in the competition this coming June. He said being a part of this team has been a great experience.

“I hope this has prepared me to help influence the future of the automotive industry,” Buhr said. “The level of engineering that you need to do [on the car] is so intense, that it gives you a very good preparation for what the industry is like.”

Buhr said they hope to have their new 2017 car ready to present to the public at Phoenix International Raceway’s IndyCar race in late April.