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Best of Baja


Pam Lewis
Kansas State Collegian


To those who walked by Durland Hall on Thursday: No, there was not a dune buggy convention.

The Society of Automotive Engineers was host of the Mini Baja West Competition, which was organized by the K-State student chapter of SAE.

The three-day event began with a display of vehicles resembling dune buggies on the lawn around Durland and Rathbone halls.

The competition is part of the National Collegiate Design Series.

Seventy teams, consisting of about 500 total students from colleges across the United States and Mexico compete in designing, building and racing a single-seat off-road vehicle powered by a Briggs & Stratton eight-horsepower engine.

David Pacey, SAE adviser and co-coordinator of the event, said the requirement of having to use the same engine and adhere to a $2,500 budget is what makes the event competitive.

"The low-powered engine makes design difficult," Pacey said, "and the cost keeps the competition fair."

Cost analysis, safety inspection, design and sales presentation were the events Thursday. The teams had to comply with all of the safety regulations and were allowed to make any necessary repairs.

The four-hour endurance race starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the School Creek ORV Area at Milford Reservoir.

Brent Hartwich, senior in mechanical engineering and a member of K-State's team, said the team had to make a few changes to comply with the safety regulations.

"We had some questions concerning our safety wire," he said. "But the vehicle is running well and turns well. We should have no problem tomorrow in the maneuverability test."

Maneuverability, hill climbing and acceleration are the events scheduled for the second day of competition that will move from campus to School Creek ORV Area at Milford Reservoir.

Jerry Jordan, president of SAE and co-coordinator of the event, said he is confident the K-State team will score well in today's events.

"They have a good car," Jordan said. "It climbs well and the design is pretty sound."

Points are earned and winners are awarded trophies in each category. An overall winner is also announced.

Scott Morgan, senior from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, was part of the team that won the overall award two years ago. He said his team this year has a good chance of a top finish.

"It is a grueling course. there is nothing easy about it."
David Pacey
Society of Automotive Engineers adviser

"I think we will at least place in the top five," Morgan said. "I am a little worried about the tires, especially in the endurance race because we do not have mud tires. We are thinking about putting some on."

The four-hour endurance race is the final component of the competition. It will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at Milford Lake.

"It is a grueling course," Pacey said. "There is nothing easy about it. It is not unusual for about 20 percent to drop out during the first lap."

The three-day event is sponsored by Briggs & Stratton, Briggs Auto Group, Case Corp., Cessna Aircraft Co., Caterpillar, Funk Manufacturing and Goodyear Engineered Products. Representatives from the sponsors judge the events and put together the luncheons and banquets for the participants.

Representatives also were at Durland on Thursday to talk about their companies and inform future engineering graduates of possible job opportunities.

"I wanted to use SAE to promote the university," Jordan said. "It is good exposure for the College of Engineering and for the students who will be graduating to meet with other engineers."

Pacey said it is a privilege to be host of the competition.

"This was our first year to host the competition. It is a community service project for us," Pacey said. "We bring people to K-State who have never heard of us, and we get to show off our facility."

This item was published on Friday, April 16, 1999

Copyright 1999, Student Publications Inc. All rights reserved.
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