Baja Racing Team First to Three-peat National Championship, Despite Four-Car Pileup

U-M Baja team
The U-M Baja Racing Team at their vehicle unveiling.

The U-M Baja Racing team earned first place in the national competition for the third year in a row, making them the first team to ever achieve the status of 3-time consecutive national champions. Baja designs and manufactures a new off-road race vehicle every season. Team members machine parts, fabricate molds, and assemble the new car, all in preparation for three regional competitions put on by SAE International in Gorman, CA, Pittsburg, KS, and Peoria, IL. Their overall performance at all three of these locations determines their placement in the league.

Baja car jump

This year's car design put a focus on improving handling, reducing mass, and increasing driveline efficiency. The team drastically improved handling by making slight changes to the front suspension and completely redesigning the rear suspension. Their shift from a three link steel suspension to an aluminum model also worked to greatly reduce the vehicle's mass.

The car weighed 272 pounds, over 10 pounds lighter than the 2016 car. This made it the lightest Baja SAE vehicle ever built. 

In California, the team came out strong, taking first place in three dynamic events. They accomplished this despite being involved in a four-vehicle crash, another team landing on top of the car.

"We spent nearly two hours of the four hour endurance race off the track making repairs," says Zechariah Schneider, CS major and team Logistics Director.

Even though that was a huge setback, Baja ended up taking second overall at the California competition. In Kansas, the team again took first in three dynamic events and the endurance race, leading to a solid first place finish. In Illinois, the team had solid performances in nearly every event, taking overall second place.

The EECS Department sponsored Baja Racing in recognition of its participating students:

Gabriel Bartosiewicz (System Leader, EE major)
Joshua Kahn (System Leader, EE major)
Gregory Meyer (EE major)
Zechariah Schneider (Logistics Director, CS major)
Shivani Shah (Testing Director, EE major)

Posted July 12, 2017