Wisconsin Racing: Formula SAE Lincoln
On June 20th Wisconsin Racing joined approximately 85 other Formula SAE teams from 7 different countries in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska. This is the first time that the FSAE West competition was held at Lincoln Airpark, in years past it was hosted by the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The move to Lincoln made perfect sense: not only was our drive shortened by 25 hours, but in 2009 the Sports Car Club of America relocated its Solo Nationals event to this same location. Lincoln Airpark is also home to monthly autocross events for the local SCCA members. Over the next four hot and windy days, Wisconsin Racing and the WRS212 once again took on the competition, and had a great time as well.
After a mostly uneventful drive through the scenic rolling hills of Wisconsin and the seemingly endless cornfields of Iowa, the team rolled into Lincoln Airpark. Wisconsin Racing wa prepared to once again represent the state of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin - Madison, all of our family and friends, and most of all our sponsors who helped bring the WRS212 to life. After a strong 10th place finish at the Michigan International Speedway in May, Wisconsin Racing hoped to further showcase the strengths of the WRS212, and compete for a win.
Day One consisted of setting up the paddock and completing final preparations on the car. At noon, technical inspection began, the drivers “tech-ed” their race gear, we took a number, and sat back in the shade of our paddock, answering questions from dozens of other teams who stopped by to see the WRS212. By late afternoon, our number was finally called and the car was rolled in front of the inspectors. A few minor issues and the closing of the track kept the WRS212 from passing tech the first time through, however after a few quick fixes, the car was loaded up for the night and the team headed out to eat, knowing Thursday would be a busy day, and crucial for the rest of the competition.
Passing technical inspection early was going to be vital to ensure that the car could pass the tilt table, noise measurements, and brake test to get some time on the practice track and be in fighting form by Friday morning. The car was the first in line for re-tech and before the morning drivers meeting came to a close, the car was through tech and ready to hit the scales. The car weighed in at 321 pounds, the second lightest car at competition. AUer weighSin, the team cleaned up the car and readied themselves for the first round of the design event. After design, the team went on to have an easy and successful afternoon. The business team breezed through the cost event, and the car passed tilt, noise, and brake without a hitch. There was plenty of Gme left to fuel the WRS212 and allow all four of our the drivers a few runs on the practice tracks. Due to the size of the the Lincoln Airpark there were multiple test tracks set up, which allowed the drivers to practice autocross, skidpad, and acceleration events, the three important events of the next day.
Friday morning marked the beginning of dynamic events, and excitement was in the air. This was the day that we got to show off what the WRS212 can do. The morning session from 8:30 to 11:30 included skidpad and acceleration events, and in the aUernoon the autocross event took place. While several teams were still sweating through technical inspection, Wisconsin Racing team was doing final preparations for the events, tuning the car based on analysis of data from the time on the practice tracks. The WRS212 was one of the first cars to run both skidpad and acceleration, and our first driver’s times put the WRS212 near the top of the leaderboard.
With a a few more laps on the practice track and a few tweaks, we were back to the events with our second driver for each event. We solidified our times and sat back to see how they’d stack up, while we prepared the car for autocross in the afternoon.
Sunny skies and a hot track awaited the car when the autocross event opened. We brought the car into the staging area and warmed up while our engine guys kept an eye on a laptop displaying real-time engine data, transmiced wirelessly from the car to the track cart. Our first driver put up two solid times, and we took a few minutes between drivers to look over the data. Our second driver went through and put up our fastest time on his second run, a good end to a successful day. The car was brought back to the paddock, cleaned up, and packed away safely, ready for Saturday’s endurance event, the most important points opportunity.
Entering the final day of competition, our point estimate showed that we were neck and neck with the leaders. But the final day of competition is always a mix of emotions. In some ways it’s the most relaxing, as only one event remains. However, the endurance event is the largest part of the competition, and a failure to finish will instantly eliminate a team’s chances of winning. This translates to a lot of pressure on every team member to make sure their system will not fail during this brutal 22 kilometer race.
An early morning thunderstorm soaked the track, and left those running in the morning session forced to race in wet conditions. But the 10th place autocross time from the previous day meant the WRS212 to run 10th from the end, with plenty of time for the track to dry. As the day progressed, the acrition rate for the cars rose with the temperatures, which were expected to reach 95 degrees, a fact that made many teams’ engine and cooling experts sweat.
At 2:30 in the afternoon, after some traffic at the fuel station, the WRS212 eagerly burst onto the track. After a few short laps the first driver overtook the University of Missouri. After a clean first run, the car came in for a driver change. However, the heat was beginning to take its toll on the drivers and the car. With this weighing on both the team and the driver’s mind, we anxiously watched the laps ticked by. After ten more hard earned laps, some close battles with other cars, and numerous other cars dropping out with catastrophic failures, our second driver brought the WRS212 home for its second endurance finish in one season. With a final time of 23 minutes 48.121 seconds, we ended up with an 8th place finish in that event. After the endurance event, the car stopped by the fueling station where track marshals took an official measurement of fuel consumed throughout the endurance event. Once again the WRS212, running on ES85 ethanol, used the least fuel of any car on track, and took home a 1st place trophy in the fuel economy event!
After endurance, the entire team stayed to acend the awards ceremony. Throughout the competition we had been keeping track of our point total, as well as our competitors’. Everything was accounted for except endurance, fuel economy and business, and by the way the points were looking, we were right with the leaders. The team had yet to finish outside of the top 10 in any part of the competition. At the awards ceremony the business team gave their presentation for a crowd, as they were one of three finalists, and ended up bringing home a 1st place trophy in the business event, along with $1,000 for the team! This, combined with our first place fuel economy score, and 8th place endurance run, propelled the Wisconsin Racing team to 3rd place overall finish!
The 2012 season has come to an end for Wisconsin Racing, but we’re currently hard at work designing the 2013 car, the WRS213! The team is very excited about what we learned over the past year, how we can apply this new knowledge to the WRS213, and we’re looking forward to becering our results at both competitions next year and building on our streak of four straight top ten finishes! We know with certainty that without your tremendous support, none of what we have been able to achieve this year would have been possible. So as always, an enormous thank you to all of our sponsors, family and friends, and now we just can’t wait to get the WRS213 out on the track!
Design: Tied 8th