The thrill of the race: Blue Devil Motorsports unveiling returns to in-person event
April 6, 2022
It’s almost competition season for Blue Devil Motorsports.
Hundreds of Lawrence Technological University students, faculty members, sponsors, alumni, parents, and friends gathered Tuesday at noon for an unveiling of six new vehicles designed and built by LTU students. It’s the first time Blue Devil Motorsports has held an in-person unveiling since the pre-pandemic year of 2019.
Andrew Gerhart, professor of mechanical engineering and faculty advisor to the SAE Aero Design team, served as master of ceremonies for the event. He noted that Blue Devil Motorsports was established a decade ago to unify all of LTU’s competition teams—but that the University has a long history with building the vehicles, dating back to the original 1980s competitions of what was then called SAE Mini Indy. The initial national competition of Mini Indy was held in LTU’s parking lots.
Six vehicles were unveiled Tuesday:
- Formula SAE, the original student vehicle competition, a half-scale open-wheel racing car along the lines of Indy or Formula 1 cars.
- Formula Electric, also an open-wheel racing car but powered by electricity, not gasoline.
- SAE Aero Design, where students design, build, and fly a small remote control cargo airplane.
- Baja SAE, where students design and build an off-road racing vehicle
- SAE Supermileage, where students design and build an ultra-light one-cylinder vehicle for maximum mpg.
Also unveiled: an LTU robotics engineering autonomous vehicle competing in the defense industry’s Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition.
The student teams, ranging in size from nine to 19 students, will be traveling with their vehicles in May and June to compete at sites in Michigan, Texas, New Hampshire, and Tennessee.
Nabil Grace, dean of the LTU College of Engineering, and Gerhart both praised the hard work and dedication of the students on the SAE teams.
Gerhart recalled that early in the Fall 2021 semester there was a power outage on campus when the SAE Aero Design team was supposed to be meeting. He said he thought the Aero Design team might just take the day off. “The engineering building was dark,” Gerhart said. “But the Aero Design team was still meeting, using the flashlights on their phones, making designs on a whiteboard. That’s an example of what I see these teams doing and how much time and dedication they put in.”
Gerhart also thanked the teams’ sponsors. “These vehicles are not cheap,” he said. “Whether it’s a gift in kind, or a monetary donation, we could not do this without you sponsors.”