Marquette, Mich.--The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja team opened its racing season with a second-place finish at the recent UW-Stout Backwoods Baja Endurance Race. It marks the best finish of all time for NMU’s SAE team. It marks the best finish of all time for NMU’s SAE team. A field of 19 cars from universities nationwide competed in the four-hour, off-road race, which takes place on a motocross track and demands a fast, reliable car, skilled driving and great teamwork.
“I’m proud of our team leaders, Dan Klim, Andy Shafer and Jimmy Hilbrecht. They led the team and allowed our newer guys to gain valuable experience driving the car.” said Robert Marlor, professor of engineering technology and SAE club adviser. “The NMU drivers used good strategy to avoid crashes and rollovers. They had some very close calls, but managed to avoid the big pileups.”
The NMU Baja team also took second place in the “fastest car” four-lap sprint with Jimmy Hilbrecht behind the wheel. The event featured an exciting “Le Mans” style start in which the drivers were required to sprint 50 yards, belt into the safety harness, start the engine and go.
Baja SAE is an international collegiate competition in which students from more than 100 universities compete each year. Racing the cars is just a small part of the competition. Participants spend hundreds of hours designing the cars on the computer and building them in the shop. The NMU team designed and built the current No. 23 car during the 2011-12 academic year. Its first competition was the International Race in June in Burlington, Wis.
The team is now preparing an additional car for Michigan Technological University’s Winter Baja Race, scheduled for Feb. 16 in Houghton. Marlor said, “MTU puts on a great race in the snow and they anticipate having more than 50 cars competing this year. This is a fun event for the teams and the spectators.”