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Checking in on VT Motorsports

Gobbler Country takes a look at the efforts of undergraduate and graduate students in the Formula SAE motor sport competition.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This May VPI will compete in the annual Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) collegiate competition at Michigan International Speedway.  Virginia Tech Motorsports is hard at work on their 2016 vehicle entry, and hoping to improve on their 2015 performance.  The participants of Formula SAE are from all over the world, including countries like Poland, Venezuela, and Singapore.  The United States carries the preponderance of the entrants, but it is truly an international competition.  Formula SAE will be marking their 35th year in 2016.  During that time Formula SAE has challenged undergraduate and graduate students to develop a business strategy, conceive, design, and manufacture of an amateur four-wheel racing vehicle.

The vehicles themselves are judged on multiple facets in two events.  The events are Static and Dynamic.  In the Static Event the automobile is judged on design, cost, and presentation.  In this event the student engineers detail their constructive thought process, cost analysis, and an evaluation of a fictional business presentation based on an assumption of convincing a company to manufacture and market the vehicle.  In the Dynamic ruling the judges evaluate the acceleration of the car over 75 meters (82 yards) and the endurance and durability of the car over 22 kilometers (13.7 miles).  Additionally, under the Dynamic events the vehicle is judged on its autocross capability, which is an assertion of the car’s handling.  Lastly the effort will be judged on what is referred to as skid-pad, which is a measurement of the car’s ability to corner during a constant-radius turn on a flat surface, in order to ascertain the vehicle’s aptitude at absorbing lateral gravitational forces.

During the 2015 competition the Hokies had a very respectable showing.  In the design category VT tied for 18th place with Cornell University, Ohio State University, the National University of Singapore, and several others.  In presentation the Hokies earned an unshared 13th place, and wrapped up the Static Event by taking place 58 in cost.  Looking at the Dynamic Event the Hokies finished 44th in the acceleration category.  In the skid-pad effort VPI finished in 24th place.  During the autocross consideration VT returned to the top ten with a seventh place finish.  During the endurance assessment the Hokies enjoyed their highest finish at fourth place.  In fuel efficiency VPI earned yet another top ten finish at ninth. The culmination of the Virginia Tech Hokies’ efforts during Formula SAE resulted in a top ten finish.  Out of the 112 total entrants VPI finished sixth in the overall rankings, which ranks the entirety of the total effort.

The Virginia Tech vehicle was the 28th entry by the Hokies into Formula SAE.  The car created by the students was named VTM15, and was a single-cylinder, light-weight, carbon fiber, half-monocoque chassis focused on fuel efficiency.

VTM15 Vehicle Specifics:

BRAKE : Slotted floating rotor, Front: AP 4227/Rear:AP 4226

BSCD : 95mm/63.2mm/1 cyl/449 cc

COOLING : Sidepod-ducted radiator with 430 cfm thermostatic-controlled fan

DRIVE : chain drive, stock gearbox

ELECTRONICS : Custom MOSFET power distribution with MoTeC M400 ECU

ENGINE : Yamaha WR450F

FR/RR TRACK : 1194mm/1194mm

FRAME : CFRP Half Monocoque with Tubular Space Frame

FUEL SYSTEM : Custom port fuel injection

FUEL TYPE : 93 Octane

MATERIAL : CRFP, Ductile Iron, Magnesium

MPD : 8000 MPT : 7000

OLWH : 2900mm/1460mm/1184mm

SUSPENSION : Unequal length Double A-arm Pullrod, Ohlins TTX-25 Dampers

TIRE : Hoosier LC0 18x6-10

UNIQUE : Custom molded seat and steering wheel

WEIGHT : 226 kg

WHEELBASE : 1537 mm

The students of VT Motorsports are hard at work at their 2016 vehicle and are planning on an even better performance this spring when the world meets again at the Michigan International Speedway.  Keep up with their efforts on Facebook at VT Motorsports and on Twitter @VTmotorsports.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @jjohnsonVATech