Baja SAE aims for Top 20 in Rochester

The NC State University Pack Motorsports Baja SAE Team is gearing up to compete in the 2022 Baja SAE Rochester Competition in Rochester, New York this week, just two weeks after competing at the 2022 Tennessee Tech Competition. 

At Tennessee Tech, the team placed 23rd overall out of 88 teams from all over the world. Additionally, they placed 6th in Acceleration, 17th in Sled Pull, 17th in Endurance and 36th in Suspension & Traction. 

When the team arrived in Cookeville, Tennessee on May 12th, one last obstacle stood in between them and a good night’s rest before the competition. 

“That weekend was definitely memorable, especially when we found out we had no hotel rooms on Thursday night,” Baja Team Captain Alex Amend recalled. “However, with much help from Shelly Hoover-Plonk from Engineer Your Experience (EYE), we were finally able to secure a hotel for the competition.”

After the last-minute hurdle of locking down a hotel for the trip, the team was off to the races and ready to begin with their tech inspection. According to Amend, the inspection was a bit difficult, but they were able to pass after adding frame members and making changes to the seat mounting. 

The team was one of only 22 teams to pass tech inspection on May 13th, and were able to start preparing for their dynamic events first thing the next day. 

On May 14th, brake check was first. Amend said the team was able to pass brakes relatively quickly after just three attempts. After that, the team placed 6th in the Acceleration event.

Next the team attempted the Maneuverability event two times but struggled with the turning radius of the course, resulting in a DNF (Did Not Finish) for both attempts.

After the Maneuverability events, severe thunderstorms delayed the rest of the dynamic events. After the storms subsided, the team was ready to give it their all on the remaining events, placing 17th in Sled Pull and 36th in Suspension & Traction. Unfortunately, during the Suspension & Traction event, turning radius kept the team from completing the entire course, similar to the Maneuverability event. 

The next day, the team finished the competition with the Endurance event. According to Amend, they had an early lead and were expecting at least 10th in the Endurance event, but poor suspension setup and steering difficulties resulted in time-consuming pit stops, pushing the them to 17th. 

“(We) have an optimistic view going into our next competition in Rochester, New York,” Amend said. “Our post-Tennessee upgrade package includes multiple steering changes. These upgrades will decrease turning radius, which will help with dynamic events such as Maneuverability and Suspension & Traction, and also decrease steering effort, which will reduce driver fatigue and help in the Endurance event.”

With these upgrades in mind, Amend is confident that the team will be able to land in the top 20 during the Rochester Competition beginning this Thursday, June 2nd, where they will compete against another 92 teams from around the world.