Winter Baja 2013

NMU SAE Baja Team Sweeps the MTU Winter Baja Race

Team at Awards Banquet

The NMU SAE Baja team raced to a first place finish at the 2013 Winter Baja race hosted by Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI on Saturday February 16.  The NMU team captured the checkered flag in both events, including the rigorous 4-hour endurance race and the 2-minute fastest lap race.   NMU drivers Andy Shafer, Matt Bair, Dan Klim, and Chris Taylor piloted the NMU #23 car to victory in a field of 48 cars during the 4-hour endurance race.  In the first few laps of the race, NMU driver (team vice president) Andy Shafer encountered a minor problem with the throttle cable that created a major problem on the race course; it’s hard win a race at half-throttle.  After a quick stop in theIn the pack pits to repair the throttle cable, Andy found himself in 40th place and throughout the next 2 hours, Andy and then Matt Bair managed to overtake more than 30 cars to move into 4th 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.  NMU Baja team advisor Bob Marlor (Professor, Engineering Technology) noted, “It was great fun to watch the NMU car beating cars to the inside line.  NMU students know how to drive in snow!”  In the second half of the race, the NMU team continued to race the car in winning fashion.  Drivers Dan Klim (team president) and Chris Taylor negotiated rapidly deteriorating snow conditions on the course to outpace the field and bring the NMU #23 car home to victory. 

Andy in the turn

In addition to a great performance on the track, NMU students working in the pits performed winning pits stops to keep stay ahead of the field.  Team members John Grassmyer, Steve Giles, Kyle St. John, Aaron Toth, and Matthew Barbercheck combined driver changes with refueling stops and were able to get the car back on the course quickly.

NMU fielded a second car ( #68) which was driven by Andy Miller, Kale Reid, Brad Ripp, and Ed Sanderson.  The NMU team recently performed extensive design changes on the #68 car.  Led by Andy Miller, the NMU team removed the entire back half of the car and built a newly engineered drivetrain and rear suspension.  The Winter Baja race was the first test for this car, and the car performed well, finishing in mid pack, and with some tuning will be battling the #23 car for the top place.  Keep an eye out at the NMU Baja test track (next to the Jacobetti Complex) to see which car is the fastest this spring. 

Andy Passing

A fastest lap event concluded the day of racing. Each university was allowed to drive one car one lap to go as fast as they could. NMU chose to use their #23 car and put Andy back into the driver’s seat. NMU’s car was the first car to go, and turned in the fastest lap time to win this event

After the race NMU’s team vice president Andy Shafer observed, “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 and have to thank Teamtech Motorsports, Lincoln Electric, Argonics Inc., Northern Michigan University and the entire Engineering Technology department at NMU. Without all of their help we would not be able to do this.”

Another downhill turn

Team president Dan Klim adds, “This year’s first place finish at MTU’s Winter Baja race is one for the record books! Without a dedicated and ambitious group of incredible students our goal of having two race vehicles would have never been reached…. I am very proud of each and every one of the team members who have sacrificed their time to design and build an outstanding off-road vehicle….It’s a great day to be a wildcat!”

The SAE Baja race series is a student engineer competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers ( 

Passing U of M

Engineering students from across the U.S. and the world design and build cars and compete in races throughout the year, with the largest races being held in the summer.  At the summer events, in addition to racing, teams are judged on the design and marketability of their vehicle.  A comprehensive engineering report is required along with a cost report which details the complete manufacturing cost of the car.  

The NMU SAE Baja team membership is open to all NMU students.  For more information see NMU SAE Baja on Facebook.In the turn