Formula SAE team readies for competition in May

Taylor McMartin, Reporter

The Society of Automotive Engineers, or more commonly known as Formula SAE, is a collegiate design competition that focuses on the manufacturing and racing of a quarter scale formula car. This year-long process has become a passion to a handful of SDSU students. 

 They call themselves Wild Hare Racing to showcase their roots in Brookings. This high-stress, fast -paced team builds hands-on skills that are useful for the future.

 They spend all their free time during the school year working on the car to compete in a three-day autocross competition held at Michigan International Raceway May 18-21, 2022.

 The competition is broken down into four categories:

  1.     Design
  2.     Technical Inspection
  3.     Brake Test
  4.     Qualifying & Endurance Race


The team is first judged on the overall design and efficiency of the car. Every year, they are given a list of criteria that the car must follow. With this criterion, the team must design and manufacture a car that is fuel  efficient, because they are also judged on miles per gallon. 

 “You have to be up to date with what the industry is doing today.” President Brandon Hageman said. “You must research into industry practices and designs to draw inspiration to create your own design.”

 The fall semester is dedicated to the design aspects of creating a formula car. The team runs simulations on SolidWorks and CREO. Then in the spring semester, they put all their efforts into manufacturing the car.

 “It’s where things become more hands-on,” Hageman said. They start by welding the frame, and as more progress is made on the car, they can start testing around the end of March. 

 Prior to leaving, the team is also tasked with creating a business presentation. They will be given a fictious manufacturing scenario upon arriving at the track and must come up with a solution, according to Hageman.

Technical Inspection

Technical inspection is exactly as it sounds. All cars go through an extensive inspection to make sure they are safe to operate. Hageman says that getting through technical inspection can be the most challenging part of the weekend. 

 After the very thorough tech inspection, teams are cleared to participate in the rest of the weekend events. 

 Brake Test

After making it through tech inspection, the teams are pulled to do a brake test bypushing the car to a certain speed limit and quickly locking the tires and coming to a a complete stop in order to make sure the brakes are in working order. After passing the brake test, next comes racing. 

 Qualifying and Endurance Race

After finishing the testing and business presentation, each school is given one lap to push the car to the limit and qualify the fastest time. The team with the fastest time will start on pole for the endurance race., the second fastest in second and so on until the grid is set. 

 The circuit is decided prior to the competition and is formed by cones, thus creating an autocross circuit. For the endurance race, the cones are adjusted to open room for overtaking, Hageman said. 

 Hageman added that the endurance race is the most important part of the competition.

“If you can make it through the endurance race you’ve built a solid car,” he said. 

 The 20-minute endurance race features a mid-race driver change and a chance to prove the longevity of a car built by college students. This race is a full-throttle, action packed spectacle that displays the long nights spent building these cars. 

 Once the race is over, the scores are tallied up and the winner is announced, and teams are sent home with a hunger to create next year’s winning car. 

 Get Involved

SDSU’s Formula SAE team is open to all majors and levels of experience. If you are looking to build hands-on technical skills that will carry into future careers, this might be the venture for you.

“Formula SAE is a great way to get hands-on experience to transfer to other disciplines,” Jason Hasse, member of the SAE team, said. Hasse also likes to see how the team improves from year to year. 

 Sianne Downes, another member of the team, said she enjoys the club because she hasn’t done anything like this before. 

“I want to go into racing, and the exposure SDSU’s SAE has given me the opportunity to do things I wouldn’t have been able to do,” Downes said. 

 For more information, or if you’re interested in joining the team, email Brandon Hageman at [email protected]