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KU’s Formula Car Team Heads to European Competition

Friday, 23 August 2013 10:34 CDT

Jayhawk Motorsports is gearing up to go global.

The Formula car team from the University of Kansas School of Engineering will compete in Europe later this month, marking the first trip abroad in the team’s history. Jayhawk Motorsports is one of 40 teams from a dozen countries registered for Formula Student Austria, set for Aug. 26-29 in Spielberg, Austria.

Nine KU students, including five recent graduates and four incoming seniors, will make the trip to Austria for the competition. This is a much smaller Jayhawk contingent than the 25-30 students who typically travel to the Formula competitions in the United States.

“We’ll be missing some key players for the design event, so those of us going are studying up to cover for different systems the best that we can,” said Hans Walther, Jayhawk Motorsports team captain and 2013 mechanical engineering graduate. “I think we can do a pretty good job given our situation, but it will definitely be tough.”

KU is registered in the combustion engine competition and will use the same vehicle the team engineered and built for the Formula SAE Michigan and Formula SAE Lincoln competition (where KU finished fourth overall). A small group of students remained on campus for the summer to focus on vehicle testing and driver training, so Walther is confident the car will be ready. The rules and set up at Formula Student Austria are identical to the U.S. competitions – though Walther said the layout of the courses and how the judges score the events could be vastly different.

“The level of competition will be very high.  Some of the top teams in the world will be there,” Walther said. “There are also a number of very good European teams known for having high-budget and high-quality cars, but I'm confident that our vehicle will be very competitive.”

It’s hoped this first overseas trip will lay the foundation for Jayhawk Motorsports to compete in other countries on an annual basis.

“This will be a great learning experience for Jayhawk Motorsports,” Walther said. “The idea of competing overseas, and showing the world what Jayhawks are made of is just so cool to me – not to mention the invaluable experience students will get from it.”

Contributions from a number of sponsors helped make the trip to Formula Student Austria possible for the Jayhawk team. They are Industrial Lumber Co. Inc.; Baggett Construction; Kenneth DeCoursey, CPA, PA; James Sorem LLC; Mike and Diana Faltermeier; Klaus and Alina Walther; and Bob and Diane Brockmeier. Walther said special thanks also goes to the Formula team at TU Graz, in Graz, Austria, which is hosting KU for the competition, helping KU transport the vehicle to and from the track, and allowing the Jayhawk team to use their shop.

“It was a huge help for us and it's really cool, because they are a very competitive, high-ranking team that we often see as rivals at the Formula Michigan competition,” Walther said.

In addition to Walther, a graduate student from Olathe, students making the trip are JT Adkins, a graduate student from Shawnee; Nick Baggett, a senior from Overland Park; Chalice Blackford, a senior from Lenexa; Kacey Eaton, a senior from Wichita; Jeff Dickinson, a graduate from Manhattan; Jordan Faltermeier, a senior from Shawnee; Tyler Pond, a graduate from Overland Park; and Dillon Prohaska, a graduate from Olathe.

“We know it’ll be a great challenge, but our expectations are still very high,” Walther said.  “We are a very strong team with a well designed, fast car, and as Jayhawks we always aim for 1st place.”