MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University’s Society of Automotive Engineers Baja team won first place at the 2013 Winter Baja race held Saturday in Houghton, Mich. The race was hosted by Michigan Technological University.
NMU students Andy Shafer, Matt Bair, Dan Klim and Chris Taylor drove the NMU No. 23 car, which beat 45 others during the four-hour endurance race. NMU was followed in the top five by Virginia Tech, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and two Michigan Tech teams. The NMU victory came despite a major problem with the throttle cable, which slowed the car in the beginning of the race.
“After a quick stop in the pits to repair the throttle cable, Andy found himself in 40th place and throughout the next two hours, Andy and then Matt Bair managed to overtake more than 30 cars to move into fourth place. The NMU team was passing cars at every conceivable spot on the track while managing to keep the car on the course and avoid time-consuming crashes and rollovers,” said Bob Marlor, NMU Baja team adviser.
Students in the pit were John Grassmyer, Steve Giles, Kyle St. John, Aaron Toth and Matthew Barbercheck.
The No. 23 car also placed first in the fastest lap event.
“We had our car set up great for the track. Not to mention that all of our drivers kept the car out of the snow banks too. I’m proud of our entire team,” said Shafer, NMU team’s vice president.
NMU President David Haynes added, "What an amazing victory for the students who worked on and raced the NMU Baja car. Wildcats everywhere are extremely proud of their hard work, dedication and focus used to compete and beat so many excellent teams. It's a testament to the high-caliber engineering students produced by NMU's Engineering Technology Department,"
NMU also ran a second car for the first time, No. 68. It was driven by Andy Miller, Kale Reid, Brad Ripp and Ed Sanderson.
The SAE Baja race series is a student engineer competition. Engineering students from across the U.S. and the world design and build cars and compete in races throughout the year. In addition to racing, every aspect of the car’s production and maintenance is judged including design, marketability, engineering reports and cost reports.