Continuing their way up the Pack

Baja Team

June 7-10 2012, Burlington Wisconsin.  The NMU SAE Baja Wildcat Racing team competed in the 2012 SAE Baja competition in Burlington, Wisconsin.   This collegiate competition requires student teams to design, manufacture, and race off road race cars.  Originating in 1976, the SAE Baja Competition Series has become one of the premier engineering design competitions for University teams from around the nation and around the world.  The NMU Baja team has competed in the Baja SAE Series since 2005 and in the past two years the NMU team has been steadily working their way up in the standings.  In 2011 the NMU team finished 10th out of 35 cars at the Michigan Tech Winter Baja race and 69th out of 115 cars at the Illinois Baja SAE event.   At the 2012 Winter Baja, the NMU team placed 8th in a field of 50 cars, and 49th out of 114 at the Wisconsin Baja SAE event; their best finish to date at both events.

The MTU Winter Baja race consists of two 2-hour endurance race help on a 1-mile long snow covered course.  The course includes several moguls, twisty turns, table top jumps, as well as s few straight sections for speed. 

The events at Wisconsin this year included acceleration, maneuverability, sled pull, mud bog, and suspension and traction as well as a 4-hour endurance race on a 2-mile course.  The endurance course includes several obstacles designed to break vehicles, including telephone poles, drop-offs, jumps, ruts, and boulders.  The national competition also includes scores for design and cost effectiveness.


Jimmy Hilbrecht, Chief Engineer – Every year I look forward to the Baja competitions and this year was no different.  We had a very solid design and strong team dynamics and I think our results reflect that.  It is very rewarding to have a car do this well after a year of designing and building.  The plan for this upcoming year is the same as it was last year: Improve the car, improve the group, and have fun.

Andrew Shafer, Vice President - After working all year to design and build our Baja vehicle, the SAE Wisconsin race was a great way to end the year. The team as a whole worked together effectively all weekend to pass tech inspection and to quickly fix our vehicle during the four hour endurance race. The highlight of the weekend was successfully reaching the checker flag signifying the end of the demanding race, a feeling that I hope future members can build on and continue to achieve.

 More information regarding the Baja SAE student competition can be found at

NMU #23 VehicleBackground:

As described in the 2012 Collegiate Design Series Baja SAE® Rules from SAE International, “Baja SAE is an intercollegiate engineering design competition for undergraduate and graduate engineering students. The object of the competition is to simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Each team is competing to have its design accepted for manufacture by a fictitious firm. The students must function as a team to design, build, test, promote and compete with a vehicle within the limits of the rules. They must also generate a financial support for their project and manage their educational priorities.            

Each team's goal is to design and build a single-seat, all-terrain, sporting vehicle whose structure contains the driver. The vehicle is to be a prototype for a reliable, maintainable, ergonomic, and economic production vehicle which serves a recreational user market, sized at approximately 4000 units per year. The vehicle should aspire to market- leading performance in terms of speed, handling, ride, and ruggedness over rough terrain and off-road conditions. Performance will be measured by success in the dynamic events which are described in the Baja SAE Rules, and are subject to event-site weather and course conditions.”

The 2012 Baja SAE Series consists of six competitions. Three competitions are held in North America under the sponsorship of SAE: Baja SAE Auburn hosted by the University of Auburn,  Baja SAE Oregon hosted by SAE Oregon Section,  and Baja SAE Wisconsin hosted by the SAE Midwest Section.

Baja SAE competitions held in Africa, Asia and South America are associated with SAE, but organized and sponsored by their local hosts: Baja SAE Brazil – Sponsored and hosted by SAE BRAZIL, Baja SAE Korea – Sponsored and hosted by Yeungnam University,  Baja SAE South Africa – Sponsored by Sasol and hosted by the University of Pretoria.

NMU Car in Action