Motor Sports Club Revs Up Proud Racing Tradition
Lawrence Technological University was one of the first universities in the United States to participate in racing competitions sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and Blue Devil teams have finished in the top 10 many times.
Lawrence Tech’s faculty advisors and student competitors hope to write a new chapter in this illustrious history with the formation of the Blue Devil Motor Sports Club. It is bringing together teams that compete in Formula SAE, SAE Baja, Aero Design and Formula Hybrid, a competition endorsed by both SAE and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE).
Previously, SAE racing at Lawrence Tech had largely been a mechanical engineering senior project. These students began their involvement in the spring of their junior year and built their racing programs from the ground up.
Now, the Blue Devil Motor Sports Club is open to all students on campus throughout their college careers. Interested freshmen can begin learning about vehicle design and construction so that they will be better prepared to assume leadership roles on a racing team as seniors. The new approach will provide more continuity from year to year, and students will be able to establish and build relationships with companies that support the teams.
College Professor Greg Feierfeil of the A. Leon Linton Department of Mechanical Engineering said broader participation is desirable because mechanical engineering students have to consider senior projects other than the racing teams. Gaining more continuity from year to year will be another benefit.
“Our teams were continually starting from scratch and there was a steep learning curve,” said Feierfeil, the faculty coordinator for the Blue Devil Motor Sports Club. “Students involved for more than one year will have more knowledge to build on when it’s their turn to compete.”
Associate Professor Robert Fletcher
Students who get involved in the Club earlier in their college careers can pursue opportunities on more than one team and develop expertise in different areas. Many architecture, science, and management
students who share a love of motor sports will have the opportunity to participate. Feierfeil foresees synergies developing between the racing teams that have traditionally functioned as separate units at Lawrence Tech. Welding is a specialty that all the teams use, for example, and there are many general functions that Motor Sports Club members can do for different teams.
Another improvement has been to bring all the racing teams together in the Applied Research Center where their work spaces have been renovated. It is easier for members of the different teams to help each other out, and in the future there should be economies of scale on purchasing.
Fund-raising also should be more efficient now that the teams are working together. Supporters and sponsors will appreciate the continuity that will carry over from year to year, according to Howard Davis, director of corporate and foundation relations at Lawrence Tech.
“Building financial support for the teams is fundamentally based on personal relationships,” Davis said. “Companies are interested in recruiting potential employees, so they want to get to know the members of our racing teams.”