NMU Baja Club Places Second at UW-Stout Backwoods Baja

1st Place: UW-Milwaukee

2nd Place: Northern Michigan University (tied with MTU)

3rd Place: Michigan Technological University

Saturday October 21, 2012.  This afternoon, the NMU SAE Baja team took 2nd place in a field of 19 cars at the UW-Stout Backwoods Baja endurance race.  The UW-Stout race is a 4-hour off-road race on a motocross track.  This endurance event demands a fast and reliable car, smart driving, and good team work.  “I’m proud of our team leaders Dan Klim, Andy Shafer, and Jimmy Hilbrecht.  They used their experience from past races to organize and prepare for this race”, notes SAE Club Advisor and NMU Engineering Technology Professor Robert Marlor,  “They led the team, and allowed our newer guys to gain valuable experience in driving the car.”  Ed Sanderson, Aaron Toth, Andy Miller, and Dan Hurt each drove the car for about 45 laps each.  Making fast pit stops for fuel and driver changes was just one component that led to this successful race.   The NMU drivers used good strategy to avoid crashes and rollovers.  Prof. Marlor adds, “They had some very close calls, but managed to avoid the big pileups” .  Vice president Andy Shafer adds, “When the drivers came around I always give them a thumbs up so they knew they were doing well. When it got close to the end I signaled  the drivers to take it easy as it is tempting to race hard to the finish but, that is when serious damage can occur”.

The NMU Baja team also took 2nd place in the “fastest car” four-lap sprint race with Jimmy Hilbrecht at the wheel.  This event featured an exciting Le Mans style start in which the drivers were required to sprint 50 yards to the car, get belted in to the safety harness, start the engine, and go. 

Baja SAE is an international collegiate competition in which students from over 100 universities compete each year.  Racing the cars is just a small part of this competition.  Students spend hundreds of hours at the computer designing the cars, and in the shop building the cars.  Student teams are scored not only on their race results, but also on their design and cost reports.  “The work on this car really starts when the team brainstorms new design ideas after a summer International race”, adds Prof.  Marlor.  The team designed and built the current No. 23 car in the fall of 2011 and winter of 2012, and raced it for the first time at the International race in Burlington, WI in June of 2012.  This fall the team tested the car extensively at the NMU Baja Test Track adjacent to the Jacobetti Complex and improved the drive train reliability and tuned the suspension.

Baja team president Dan Klim notes, “This year’s team has almost doubled since last year making progression of the club outstanding. The new team members have meshed really well into their new roles and responsibilities which helped in the preparation for the first race of the season hosted by UW Stout. The revamped test track built over the summer created a solid platform for us to test our car prior to the upcoming events this season. Without continuous testing there is no continuous improvement, so we are very thankful to have the car tested and running on our own turf."  

The team is now preparing an additional car for the MTU Winter Baja race, scheduled for February 16th in Houghton, MI.   Prof. Marlor concludes, “MTU puts on a great race in the snow, and they anticipate having more than 50 cars competing this year.  We are looking forward to bringing 2 cars to the MTU race.  This is a fun event for the teams and the spectators”.  Dan Klim adds, “We are looking forward to implementing a new front end geometry design in our current No. 23 car along with a new drivetrain design in the 2010-11 car in preparation for the MTU Winter Baja race.” 

NMU Baja Team photo with trophy:  Kneeling (L-R): Andy Miller, Andy Shafer (VP), John Grassmyer, and Matt Karody. Standing (L-R): Matt Bair, Dan Klim (Pres.) , Joe Stackvel, Kale Reid, Jimmy Hilbrecht (Chief Eng.), Ed Sanderson, Dan Hurt, Aaron Toth, Steve Giles, Chris Taylor, and Adam Steinhauer.

The starting line, 2nd heat, UW-Backwoods Baja race 2012.

NMU Baja driver Andy Miller leads an MTU car through a tricky off-camber downhill turn.  Several cars rolled over at this turn, but the  NMU drivers raced a full 170 laps without a single mishap.

Air Time

A close battle

NMU Baja driver Andy Miller launches off of a jump