New race cars designed by Purdue Motorsports students unveiled

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue Motorsports has unveiled three of its new race cars designed and built for the Society of Automotive Engineers’ 2022 Collegiate Design Series.

Since 1983, Purdue students have participated in the event with custom race cars which they have worked on throughout the winter and spring, preparing the cars to race against other universities in the summer.

Many of these students faced a unique challenge that their predecessors never faced: the pandemic changed the structure of the normal functioning of these teams in previous years.

“Last year our teams worked really well because during COVID it meant everyone had to collaborate remotely. So that means they needed to document their processes in more detail. In fact, it’s an important part of SAE competition. It’s not just the driving; students are also required to make a design presentation and a business presentation to showcase the decision-making that influenced their team’s engineering choices,” said Jared Pike, communications specialist at Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering.

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“We thought 2022 was a good year to hold a public event,” said Adam Busch, senior electrical and computer engineer and president of Purdue SAE. “For two years, we have been living life through a screen. Now is the time to open the doors and invite everyone to see these incredible racing cars up close.

Purdue Motorsports unveils its Purdue's Baja single-seat off-road style car for the Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series, April 15, 2022, in West Lafayette.

The first car shown was Purdue’s Baja SAE build, which is a single-seater off-road race car, designed to traverse any type of terrain or obstacle.

“This year, our team was able to shed 60 pounds off last year’s best-selling four-wheel-drive car. Improve turning radius and cornering performance and obstacle traversal. These features were also realized in our most aggressive timeline yet with a completed car ready to test on March 5,” said Matthew Kuebel, president of Purdue Baja Racing.

“All that extra riding time has made us discover that the Viper can crawl over an 18-inch wall of railroad ties,” Kuebel said. “It can also jump 5 feet in the air without hitting bottom, and it can turn just as well, if not better than our previous two-wheel-drive cars.

Purdue Motorsports unveils its Formula-style car for the Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series, April 15, 2022, in West Lafayette.

The second car unveiled was Purdue’s Formula SAE build, a Formula-style single-seater car with an internal combustion engine.

“A little about our car,” said Tyler Green, president of Purdue Formula Racing. “There’s a 50 horsepower motorcycle engine, a 400cc Yamaha single cylinder, weighs about 390 pounds without a rider, and all of that gives you a car that can do 60 in about four and a half seconds.

“It will corner once it gets up to speed once the arrow runs, about two and a half Gs. Just for reference, your Porsche 911, your sports car will do about 1.2 or 1.3 ( Gs) on a good day, so two and a half years is a lot for our riders.

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G-force is the acceleration you feel due to the force of gravity.

“I really think with this car, with this team, with the testing we’ve done, the speed we’ve seen, I really think we have a chance of getting on the podium or winning.”

Purdue Motorsports unveils its Formula Electric-style car for the Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series, April 15, 2022, in West Lafayette.

The final car unveiled was Purdue’s Electric Racing build, a Formula-style car specifically powered by electric motors. It is powered by a 300 volt battery and goes from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 4 seconds.

“This vehicle brings a lot of firsts for the team,” said Purdue Electric Racing chief mechanical engineer James Hofstadler. “Our first all-wheel-drive architecture, first water-cooled battery, and first computer engineers ever walked into the mechanical engineering building. But seriously, this car is not to be spoiled. It features a group 80-hp powertrain, smart enough to individually control the power delivered to each wheel.

“It does it every 15 milliseconds, which is six times faster than you can blink and does it all the time the car is rolling to optimize our cornering and lateral acceleration through the corners.”

“I’m so proud of these students,” said Todd Nelson, general manager of Purdue Motorsports.

“All of these teams participate in the Society of Automotive Engineers Collegiate Design Series and to me, nothing provides a better on-campus experience for these students than this. No other program helps them develop the skills they acquire here.

Noe Padilla is a journalist at Journal & Courier. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at 1NoePadilla.

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