SDSU auto engineers chapter building half-size Indy racecar

Josh Chilson

Josh Chilson

To all the sportscar and loud pickup-truck owners that think your vehicle is hot stuff, prepare to be blown away by a few handy hobos.

The SDSU chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers is currently developing a Formula One racecar. The vehicle will race in a national collegiate competition at the California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., this June.

The car is powered by a 600 cc Yamaha motorcycle motor and has a 60-inch wheelbase. It is approximately half the scale of an actual Indy car.

SAE students are entirely responsible for the design and construction of the vehicle. Though some of the parts fabrication is outsourced to other facilities, it is solely up to the SAE members to put each of these individual parts together in the mechanical engineering heat power lab.

“It is good and practical experience for students,” said Dan Dohman, president of SDSU’s SAE chapter.

All members of SAE are welcome to work on the project.

In addition to the experience those involved earn, the undertaking is also the Senior Design Project for the seniors involved. Not only do they attain school credits for this project, they will likely receive attention from national motor companies like GMC and Toyota when the car takes part in the competition this summer.

The university itself, particularly the engineering department, also benefits from the project. According to former SAE president Morgan McNickle, the car is also a fantastic recruitment tool.

“Most prospective engineering students base their decision of which college to attend on the projects that are available at each college,” McNickle said.

Apart from all these positive benefits, both Dohman and McNickle simply love the fact that they are constructing an actual racecar. Dohman has experience racing, and McNickle has experience working in his pit crew.

Dohman said those that have spent the most time and put in the most effort are considered for drivers. Ultimately, those who perform the best in timed trials once the car is completed will drive the vehicle in competition.

SAE is an international organization with more than 90,000 members. Dohman and McNickle co-founded the SDSU chapter in spring 2005. The society now has about 35 members at SDSU, and any students interested in automotive technology are welcome to join.

Professors Shanzhong Duan and Doug Peters serve as advisers to the group.

#1.884111:3433060512.jpg:SAE Racecar.jpg:Trent Johnson, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, works on the engine for the SAE racecar on Oct. 16. Trent is the racecar’s project manager and has been spending most of his time working on the engine.:Christy Wey