The Queen’s Baja racing team ended their 2011 season with a fifth place finish at a weekend in Peoria, Ill. last month. It’s the best result the Queen’s team has seen since a gold medal in 2008.
The Baja team designs and builds an off-road vehicle during the school year to compete in three summer competitions across the United States.
The team’s car must be amphibious and able to withstand several tests without breaking. Competition events include hill climbs, sprints and endurance races.
This year’s team of 11 students started tweaking the previous year’s car last September. Team member Geoffrey Lee said the focus this year was on improving the car’s brakes, pedals and driver ergonomics.
“Overall, the car was much lighter,” Lee, Sci ’12, said. “We dropped 40 pounds out of the car which is about 10 per cent of the vehicle weight. That was a big goal for us.”
But the team’s changes weren’t exclusive to the car. Lee said members were more dedicated than previous years. The team put 50 hours of work into the car every week. The previous year’s team only had one project manager while Lee’s team had four.
“Last year was a transition year,” Lee said. “This year, we had three fourth-years plus a Master’s student for senior staff, which made it easier for the team to run smoothly throughout the year.”
Last year, the team came 26th overall in Carolina and 27th overall in Rochester. This summer, the team competed in all three competitions and earned two top-10 finishes.
The team traveled to Birmingham, Ala. in April where they earned a first place finish in the suspension category and placed seventh overall.
In May, the team was in Kansas. Despite a problem with the width of the transmission belt that caused the team to place 47th in the acceleration event, the team came 11th overall at the competition.
In Illinois, the team came up with their best overall finish in three years with fifth place.
“Illinois was by far the best competition,” Lee said. “We brought back a very good result.”
The Baja team has already started preparations for next summer’s competitions, Lee said.
“Because we finished top ten in the competition, we have to change at least 30 per cent of our car,” he said. “We’re going to do a fair amount of re-design on the car before we start building again.”
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