Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Formula Racing: Hot Wheels

The Dartmouth Formula Racing team roared to a 19th-place finish among 166 entries in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers competition held in Pontiac, Mich., in May.

The annual contest incorporates design, presentation, and competitive driving, familiarizing students with the full range of engineering, manufacturing, and marketing considerations that go into producing a car. Dynamic events, including a white-knuckler of an endurance race over a one-kilometer road course, test the car’s performance in acceleration, autocross, skid pad, and stamina.

The 454-pound entry, dubbed Vicki by the 35-member team, featured the most compact rear frame design ever built by a Dartmouth team, according to co-captains Jonathan Den Hartog ’03, Th’05, Joe Horrell ’04, Th’05, and Alric Lam ’01, Th’05. Thirty-five pounds lighter than last year’s car, Vicki achieved the team’s goals for weight and ease of driving. “Most of the mass is concentrated low and in the center of the vehicle to enhance dynamic performance,” Den Hartog says. “You can definitely feel it while driving — the car is really quick and nimble around tight turns.”

TRIM FIGURE: The 2005 model featured the most compact rear frame design yet for a Dartmouth formula race car.  Photograph by Sally Smith ’05.
TRIM FIGURE: The 2005 model featured the most compact rear frame design yet for a Dartmouth formula race car. Photograph by Sally Smith ’05.

In another innovation the team used Thayer School’s new vacuum casting equipment to build a lightweight plastic — rather than aluminum — air intake system for the engine.

The team is already looking ahead. “In future competitions, the team needs to concentrate more on data collection and be ready to justify the choices that are made on each part to the judges,” says Lam.

For more photos, visit our Dartmouth Formula Racing collection on Flickr.

Categories: The Great Hall, Formula Racing

Tags: design, energy, leadership, race cars, students

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