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Published May 17, 2023
The University of Wyoming’s Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team took first place in the hybrid division at the Formula Hybrid + Electric competition at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway May 1-4.
The Wyoming Motorsports team competed against 20 teams -- four hybrid and 16 electric cars -- from the United States and Canada. This was the team’s second trip to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Louis Failoni, a current UW MBA student and Wyoming Motorsports’ president during 2022-23, says the team had an excellent showing and was able to make necessary fixes on the fly, which showed the resolve and technical ability of the team.
“I am really proud of what the team was able to accomplish this year,” says Failoni, of Kemmerer. “Designing and building a reliable hybrid race car is no small feat. We had some small fixes we had to make on-site to pass the technical inspection process. But we were able to resolve all of these issues quickly and get on track for all three of the dynamic events.”
Wyoming Motorsports’ hybrid car participated in the design competition and technical inspections, which included rotating the car through several inspection stations and having all parts of the vehicle checked for safety and specification requirements.
At the first station, the hybrid car was inspected for mechanical soundness and driver safety, according to Failoni. The vehicle was checked to make sure there is proper clearance space between the driver’s helmet to the roll hoop. The driver also must prove, while fully secured, that he can exit the vehicle within five seconds.
At the next station, the car’s electrical systems were inspected. Judges performed a thorough review of the team’s documentation and reviewed a checklist of demonstrations to ensure that safety features on the vehicle were in proper working order. Rollover stability, noise and brake performance round out the technical inspection process.
“The technical inspection process was very thorough, and somewhat frustrating at times, but makes the competition very safe while still allowing teams the freedom to come up with unique and innovative designs,” says Joshua Gardner, a junior from Charleston, S.C., majoring in mechanical engineering. Gardner is Wyoming Motorsports’ outgoing chassis/suspension team lead and incoming powertrains team lead. “Although the rule book puts constraints on the vehicles, it was very eye-opening to see the many ways that other teams solved these complex problems. It goes to show that very rarely is there only one correct answer to a problem.”
Of the four cars that entered the hybrid competition, only the Wyoming Motorsports’ car competed in the dynamic events: acceleration, autocross and endurance.
The car performed well in autocross, posting the fifth-fastest time overall, due primarily to extra power of the hybrid drivetrain and the drivers’ skill. In the endurance event, with Failoni behind the wheel, the Wyoming Motorsports’ car completed 40 out of 44 laps, a feat which only a few of the teams were able to beat.
The team’s strategy was to ensure the reliability of the hybrid car first before tuning its performance, according to Quinton Royle-Grimes, a UW student from Greeley, Colo., majoring in mechanical engineering and Wyoming Motorsports’ outgoing vice president of engineering.
“The experience makes you realize how much more grounded and attainable the real world of racing is,” says Julian Amundson, a UW sophomore from Fort Collins, Colo., majoring in mechanical engineering and Wyoming Motorsports’ incoming chassis/suspension team lead. “At the end of the day, these race teams are made up of normal people who are really passionate about cars and racing. I was fortunate to be one of the drivers in the autocross and acceleration events. Even though I didn’t have much seat time leading up to the events to practice, it was still a great experience, and I was able to learn a lot and have a great time.”
The team also won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Engineering the Future Award for its adherence to good practices in race car design.
The team received positive feedback from the design judges and is optimistic moving forward as the team looks to recruit more members and pursue more sponsors, says Riley Milburn, a UW junior from Cheyenne majoring in mechanical engineering and the outgoing aerodynamics team lead for Wyoming Motorsports.
“Things are looking really bright for Wyoming Motorsports,” Milburn says. “We are in a great spot with lots of room to improve. The team is looking forward to pushing the performance of the car even more next year. As the incoming vice president of business, my biggest goal will be to get the team’s name out there and form new partnerships with sponsors and the community.”
To learn more about the Wyoming Motorsports team, go to www.wyomoto.com.