The Washington Huskies Formula Motorsport Team

Category: Feature, News, Videos. Written by Cameron Wong 

While the Washington Huskies have suffered through their worst football season ever, on the upper campus, another UW team is gaining praise throughout the nation – the Motorsports team.

The UW formula SAE racing team is made up of students from various majors who build a formula race car from the ground up. Everything from concept, design, manufacturing and production all takes place in the hands of students. Made up of primarily engineering students, the motorsports program helps these young minds take the theory of the classroom and apply it toward the real world.

“The fact that the program allows student to come in and fail, and to learn from those mistakes is huge, “ explains Nick Miller, the teams director of manufacturing. “When you can learn from failing, it leads to success. It’s what we’re striving for.”

The program starts in late summer, when the team knocks out an initial design. From then until the annual inter-university competition, the design is refined through multiple iterations. During that that time, the team has open tryouts from the members to determine who will drive the car in competitions.

Though a room full of students building go-karts might seem like kids play, you wouldn’t want to race for pink slips anytime soon. This “go-kart” will leave you in the dust, going from 0 to 60mph in 4 seconds while sporting a top speed of over 110mph.

Not phased by that 4 second acceleration Mr. 911 Turbo? You might want to consider that you’re up against a driver who also was his home state carting champ. That same driver carried the UW formula team to a near victory last year, if not for a last minute vehicle malfunction.

“You start from problem concept and all the way through until the last race,” says Miller. “The experience is invaluable for the engineering and business students. That’s why the corporate sponsors like us; we produce high quality engineers out of this program.”

Going into its 20th year on the University of Washington campus, the popularity and success has grown annually. The list of sponsors that have backed the UW student run race team is impressive as well. The Boeing Company, along with Janicki and Goodyear have all made contributions to the program. According to their website, donations and contributions make up 75% of the team’s total budget.

Money is still no easy feat however, as developing a race car takes a large financial toll. Over $100,000 went into the production of the 2008 car, plus donated time and materials. While the team is making ends meet, additional exposure and sponsorships can give critical resources to this team with winning potential.

The big competition every year is in Detroit when schools are judged by some of the best auto engineers around the world. In 2008, out of 140 schools, the University of Washington team finished 2nd in design, something for the Huskies to be proud of.

“It’s more than a senior project,” says team administrative director Ryan Trickett “It’s a personal growth project.”

To learn more, visit the UW Formula Motorsports Homepage. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Ashley Emery at emery@me.washington.edu

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