This year we set out to manufacture a lighter and faster vehicle that was as reliable as the previous years as well as finish top 25 Overall and top 10 in the Endurance race. Our competition was held at the Caterpillar Proving Ground in Peoria, IL. They had compiled 4 very challenging events including an impassable 100ft Rock Crawl, a steep 100ft Hill Climb, a highly dynamic maneuverability course, and a 1.2 mile punishing Endurance race. Out of the 115 vehicles registered for the competition, non were able to make it through the entire Rock Crawl, but we were able to finish reach 49 feet of the course, landing us in 19th place with the highest point reached being 58ft. Do the the advancements we had made to our suspension and rear drive train, we were able to traverse the maneuverability course with ease and take 20th place.
The Endurance race is a wheel to wheel race with every vehicle that passed tech inspection in the lineup. Our starting position was 36th due to our Acceleration. The race started promptly at 10:00 A.M. Saturday morning with team President Frank Falbo, Senior Mechanical Engineering Student, in the drivers seat. Through out the 4 hour race, Frank and Ryan Mantell, Senior Mechanical Engineering Student and Team Vice President, rotated driving the NIU Mini Baja. Through out the race teams were forced to pit due to mechanical malfunctions and their vehicles breaking. Going into the race we were confident our vehicle would hold up to any punishing track Caterpillar had to throw at us, but while driving we couldn’t help watch many vehicles being dragged off the track and not worry just a little bit. Promptly at 2:00 P.M. the white flag was waving and the race was soon over. Unfortunately on the last lap a stock OEM manufacturers part failed and we were unable to complete the lap. With the top ten vehicles in the pit row we were sure to have at leased finished top 25 in the endurance race. It wasn’t until around 10:00 A.M. the following Monday morning that we had received the final results of the 2011 SAE Mini Baja Competition. Our team was able to secure 25th place overall in the competition and a astounding 10th place in the Endurance race. We set out to accomplish a strict set of goals and succeeded.
We would like to thank NIU CEET Faculty and Staff, NIU Mechanical Engineering Faculty and Staff, Al Metzger, Nick Skuban, Jake Franzen, and the rest of our sponsors for their donations and support during the 2010-2011 season. Without them we would have not been as successful as we were.