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Jayhawk Motorsports Heads to Detroit for Annual Formula SAE Competition

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Students from the University of Kansas School of Engineering will take the 2009 Jayhawk Motorsports Formula SAE car to Detroit this week to compete with more than 100 teams from universities around the world.

This year’s car, JMS-09, runs on fuel composed of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Previous editions have run on high-octane race fuel. The team conducted considerable research and testing and found the performance benefits to go along with the ecological benefits of using a more renewable fuel source.

“For the past nine months, we have been working hard to design and build the fastest Formula SAE car,” said Matt Petty, senior in mechanical engineering. “All of our hard work will show on the track in Detroit. This car has the potential to beat some of the best schools in the country and with hard work and working together we have the potential to win a Formula SAE event this year.”

This year’s Formula SAE team is larger than ever, with more than 25 underclassmen volunteers, 15 seniors who have chosen the team as their senior design project and six graduate level volunteers. Jayhawk Motorsports is supported by dozens of engineers and professionals in industry. The project gives students of all levels and disciplines real-world experience they would not receive in the classroom.

“The team puts in considerable hours through the design and testing phases, and that work pays off in the spring,” said Associate Professor Robert Sorem, associate dean of the School of Engineering and the team adviser. “Every year, we are proud of the effort and dedication the students show to create a top-notch vehicle from the ground up.”

KU’s Formula SAE teams have a national reputation for excellence. The team had a streak of six consecutive years as the only team in the country to complete all aspects of the competition, which tests the performance and durability of the vehicles and pushes teams to reach the highest levels of engineering creativity. KU’s team has earned three top-10 finishes nationally in the past five years.

The Society of Automotive Engineers competition in Detroit consists of a number of contests. The car will go though a technical inspection Wednesday. On Thursday, the team will make presentations on the car’s design and completion, as well as give a “sales pitch” to a panel of racing executives. On Friday and Saturday, the car will be put through the dynamic phases of competition, including acceleration, braking, autocross, fuel economy and endurance.

The team also plans to enter the car in the Formula SAE competition at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in June.

Vehicle specifications

Overall length: 111.9 in

Width: 54.4 in

Height: 37.0 in

Weight (Race Ready): 395 lb

Suspension type: Double unequal A-arm, push rod actuated, horizontally (front) vertically (rear) oriented dual spring and damper

Wheels: 13 in x 7 in custom designed and manufactured in-house carbon fiber rims

Chassis: Composite monocoque with separable roll hoop structure

Engine: Aprilia SXV 550/550X – 549cc displacement 77 degree V twin

Fuel Type: E85

Formula SAE Detroit competition (May 13-16)

Formula SAE California competition (June 17-20)

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