Speed racers ready to go

Dessiraee Eleby

Late nights and early mornings are spent in Jacaranda Hall as CSUN Formula-SAE, also known as Matador Motorsports, builds their formula-one style race car to compete in the Formula- SAE West competition from June 25-28.

“Its pretty demanding,” said Matt Powell, 20-year-old junior majoring in business, who is the project manager. Powell has been apart of the team for the last three years.

Twenty of the 22-member team major in mechanical engineering. Two members are the exceptions majoring in electrical engineering and business.

Many of the members enroll in ME486 A, B or C during the school year to establish the design of the race car during the fall semester and implement its design in the spring semester.

“It goes beyond (just) participating in class … ,” said Powell because the race car is not completed until after the end of spring semester. Eight or nine members spend an average of 15 hours a day working on the race car.

There are modifications made to the race car each year. The focus for this year’s race car is making it lighter in weight. The race car will be built from a carbon fiber, a thin high-strength material.

“A key thing in designing a race car is making it as light as possible,” said Powell. With a lighter race car there is a higher performance includes better acceleration, handling and breaking.

This is the third year that the Matador Motorsports will be attending Formula-SAE West in Fontana, Calif. although it gives the team no real advantage.

“The course is changed every year so you really never know what to expect,” said Powell.

CSUN Formula-SAE practices in parking lots, which gives them the biggest challenge when the team races on the race course at higher speeds, said Powell.

The four-day event will hold a total of seven competitions. The competitions are divided into two categories: static and dynamic events.

The static events include a sales pitch, cost presentation and design presentation. Powell will be making the sale pitch to the judges. Five people will be assigned to perform the cost presentation that will account for every nut and bolt used on the car. All the team members will be present for the design presentation, said Powell.

The dynamic events are when the actual driving takes place, said Powell. There are four basic driving competition; acceleration, skid pad, auto cross and endurance test.

Weight reduction is important to get a fast time, said Tadaoki Matsudaira, 25, CSUN alumnus. As one of the four drivers for this year’s competition, he does nothing special except tries not gain any more weight.

Matador Motorsports chose four drivers at the beginning of the school year. Each team member is allowed to drive the previous year race car. The drivers with the fastest and most consistent times are chosen to drive in the competition.

“Especially driving acceleration (race), a lighter weight car can gain a faster time,” said Matsudaira is a potential driver in the acceleration race portion of the competition.

“A lot more (money was raised this year) than in previous years,” said Powell. Fifty thousand dollars was the grand total of funding raised.

Associated Students, IRA and University Corporation donated most of the budget, said Powell. Two members of CSUN F-SAE: Chris Rabadi and Kenyon Whetsell brought in additional outside funding from local businesses Dynamo Aviation and Centric Parts.

Whetsell the 23-year-old mechanical engineering senior met Dino Crescentini, the owner of Centric Parts as a Tri-Point Engineering employee.

Crescentini was very generous and very approachable, according to Whetsell for whom the task of asking for cold hard cash is difficult. “(It was a) huge help for him give,” said Whetsell.

The funding partially paid for the data acquisition system that will be use to gather information while someone drives the race car. “The data acquisition for improving the car and for next year’s team is so invaluable,” said Whetsell.

“We educate drivers as well as the engineers working on the car,” said Whetsell. “The more information we can acquire while driving, the more information we have and can improve the car and the driver.”