Monday, July 21, 2008

Rolling Sculpture Car Show

A couple of weeks ago, we trailered Car 51 to Ann Arbor for the Rolling Sculpture Car Show; an event that regularly hosts about 400 cars and a whole mass of enthusiasts and passerbys alike. Now...some of you may be wondering why we would dare venture into the middle of Wolverine country with our prized race car. I have to admit that, in driving there, I too was wondering how we'd be received.

This process all began several months ago when car show director Chris Finney had contacted the team about being part of an area of the show devoted to education; an area called "The Dream Arena." As he explained, his vision with this area was to "get the wheels turning" in the heads of the show's youthful attendees. As many of you know, throughout the year, team members regularly take our latest and greatest cars out to schools and groups of students to show them some of the opportunities that are available at a collegiate level. In talking with Chris, it was easy to see that his educational-vision was very similar to ours, so naturally, we were quite excited when he asked us to participate in the show.

I am happy to report that the show went very, very well. In fact, it was one of the most fun events that I've been to yet. The weather was perfect, the streets were packed with cars and enthusiastic attendees, and everyone who stopped by was really nice. Downtown Ann Arbor provided the perfect backdrop for the evening and there were quite a few comments on the Race for a Cause program. Hopefully, these comments came from donors to the 2009 Race-Cause initiative.

We've already spoken with show organizers about participating again, so if you live in the Ann Arbor area and missed us this year, be sure to swing by next July. Here are a few pictures from this year's event. Enjoy!

Go Green. Go White. Go Fast.


*Photography credited to Hillary Gregory, Cockpit Team Leader

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Post Comp Days: Santa Monica & a trip to see our friends Jay and Bernard.

In the days after Formula SAE West, we had the pleasure of traveling around southern California, battling traffic and sun burns.

On Sunday, the day following competition, we were stuck in California (we know; we're suffering), awaiting our visit to the Big Dog Garage to show Jay and Bernard Car 51. As such, we decided a visit to the beach in Santa Monica was in order. Following this, we headed south to Long Beach for an evening of grilling at Cockpit Team Leader Elizabeth Carroll's apartment. Thanks for having everyone, Liz!

Monday morning, we were up early and (luckily) had little difficulty battling the traffic from Long Beach to Burbank. While unloading, Jay drove past us in the same yellow Hudson Hornet that he was driving the last time we stopped by. We rolled Car 51 up to one of Jay's multiple garages and, upon knocking on the door, were greeted by the big man himself, who opened a garage door and ushered us inside.

We introduced the team and with a quick showing of hands of new team members - it was apparent that over 75% of the team hadn't been to Jay's place before. Following introductions, Jay gave us a personal tour of the entire facility, stopping at over a dozen cars and telling us the history of the manufacturer, model and exact vehicle sitting before us. Often times, he even went into depth about the previous owners. It is really amazing at the wealth of knowledge that Jay has about his collection; I'm surprised each time we've visited.

Also impressive was that the Big Dog Garage went Green in a major way since last June. Reducing waste and using clean-manufacturing methods for fabrication of parts was cool to hear about, but even cooler was that through the use of a turn-of-the-20th-century electric generator and with the addition of solar panels, the garage is now energy independent of the City of Burbank (sometimes even feeding energy back into the grid). Congratulations on these great accomplishments, guys!

Arriving back at Car 51, Bernard and another employee of Jay's stopped by. I asked the man if he worked there and his laughing reply was priceless: "Yes, if you can call this work." All I can say is that it must be nice. We spent the next half an hour talking with Jay and Bernard about the evolution from Car 9 to Car 51, as well as letting them in on some secrets in-store for the 2009 car. The talk ended by giving Jay, Bernard and Bernard's wife, Rosalie, their own MSU Formula Racing Team Denim shirts. We know that Jay loves denim shirts, so we thought the gift was quite fitting.

Thanking them all for another great tour, we loaded Car 51 back into the semi, hopped onto the expressway and bid our driver, Darick, a fond farewell.

We spent the rest of the day walking around Hollywood, before heading to Hermosa Beach for dinner with team alum Mark Brown. Our final day in socal was spent relaxing and meandering around the Hermosa pier before making the short jaunt down Pacific Coast Highway to LAX and hopping on a plane to head home.

I think that I can speak for everyone who went when I say it was another trip of a lifetime. A second one, for some of us. We hope that you enjoyed the pictures and video; we certainly enjoyed your comments and emails. Reading them, it felt like some of you were right here with us.

I'll be updating the blog throughout the summer as we travel around the midwest exhibiting Car 51 at various shows, educational events, and Make-A-Wish functions. Just look in the Events column of our website to see where we'll be - many of these are open to the public and free of charge.

Finally, please don't hesitate to contact me if you ever would like any of the pictures you've seen here:

Go Green. Go White. Go Fast.


Southern California Coastline

Pier in Santa Monica

Another shot of the Santa Monica pier


End of the day

Our newest team members: Jay Leno & Bernard Juchli

Team @ the Big Dog Garage

As the movie Hancock was opening at the Kodak Theater the next day, the street was partially blocked off.

Hollywood Sign


Pictures from the day of the Endurance race at Formula SAE West. Also included are Design Finals and a couple of the Awards ceremony.


Car 51 getting scaled prior to the race.

2009 Powertrain Electrical Team Leader Leslie Hodges fixes a last-minute pulled wire

Topside of Nosecone

Heading to the Endurance track.

And we're off with Andy Gryczan at the wheel!

Going through the first slalom


I believe this is Andy's last lap, signaling the mid-point of the race and time for a driver change

Driver Change successful - time for the Goad Show!

Brandon @ mid-track. I was close to the track here and remember hearing the engine absolutely screaming (due to being stuck in 1st gear).

Heading into the final S curve

Hi Goad!

Final lap!

Last round of Design: Powertrain was a hot topic for this event.

2009 Chief Engineer Andy Rogers discusses Car 51's Chassis optimizer, developed by Team Leader Paul Strefling.

Jordan discusses Suspension Kinematics with some of the best.

Chassis discussion

Cooling system questions

Getting tired towards the end of Design.

Note: Andy Gryczan is STILL talking about Powertrain. He talked for approximately 89 minutes and 30 seconds out of the 90 minute round. Fantastic job Andy!

Receiving a final critique from Design Chief Mike O'Neil.
3rd Place: Western Washington Univ., 2nd Place: Univ. of Washington, 1st Place: Michigan State!

Video of the Critique. Credit goes to 2009 Powertrain Mechanical Oiling/Cooling Team Leader Marcus McDuffie for the camera work.

Design Finalists (LtoR: W. Washington, MSU, U.Washington)
Photograph: Miki Hegedon, TU Delft

2008 MSU Formula SAE West Competition Team
Photograph: Miki Hegedon, TU Delft

A series of two: our dedicated Faculty Advisor, Dr. Gary Cloud, simply known as "Doc" to those of us on the team, receiving the SCCA Carroll Smith Mentor's Cup. Since 1999, the Mentor's Cup has been given annually to the most dedicated Faculty Advisor in the Formula SAE series. Congratulations to Doc - you definitely deserve it! We cannot say thank you enough for everything you do for the team.

Leaving Auto Club Speedway.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

AutoX, Accel & Skidpad Pictures

Just a few photos from the days of Autocross, Acceleration, and Skidpad at FSAE West!


2009 Brakes System Team Leader Erik Stitt tops off the brake fluid prior to Skidpad

2009 Financial Sponsorship Team Leader Corrie Zitkus served as the spotter for our friend Miki Hegedus from TU Delft throughout the dynamic event days.

Staging for Skidpad with Missouri S&T

Suspension Team Leader Jordan Smart on the Figure 8 Skidpad

Looking out to the track

Scott Williams heads down the backside of the Acceleration strip

Trying to sort out our traction control system problems, Part I.

TC problems, Part II. We eventually had to just turn the system off, preventing us from duplicating our 2007 competition record-setting acceleration run.

Andy Gryczan on his 1st Autocross run of the day

Andy AutoX, Part deux

Brandon's 1st Autocross lap

Brandon's fastest lap - plagued by partially-clogged fuel lines (and the associated loss in power)