CSUN’s Matador Motorsports car racing team will be competing against 80 other teams in the European Formula Student Competition at the Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome in Leicestershire, England this July.
The Formula Society of Automotive Engineers’ annual race, an international student competition, has been held in Detroit for the past 10 years.
“The biggest race is in Detroit, but there (are) races in England, Australia (and) Italy,” said Melih Sacli, project manager and chief engineer of suspension.
The teams are judged in static and dynamic events. The static events consist of a cost report, sales presentation, and an engineering design presentation. The dynamic events include judging of linear and lateral acceleration, an autocross, and a 22-kilometer endurance race.
“I went as an observer last year, and it was incredible,” Sacli said. “Thousands of spectators in the stands. I want to go every year.”
Last year, the Matador Motorsports team placed in the top 10 percent, ranking 14th out of 140 teams, and also outranked all other California competitors, including USC.
To fund this year’s European competition, students get sponsorships from private automotive companies.
“They fund us, and we’ll put their stickers on our car,” Sacli said.
Sometimes, companies help the students with the parts; this year, Yamaha gave them a free engine. The cost to build the car is approximately $25,000, and the cost to ship the car to England will be $15,000.
The team is always looking for extra donations or sponsorships.
“You’ll even get a tax write off,” said Drive Train Engineer Terry Sasaki.
Matador Motorsports became part of the FSAE competition in 1989 by the efforts of Tim Fox, mechanical engineering professor.
The competition has two female engineers, Cynthia Aurora and Aislinn Taylor, who said they do not feel they are at a disadvantage in a mostly male dominated field.
Taylor said she has always been interested in cars.
“I’ve always been fascinated with cars and moving parts,” said Taylor, who is the chief engineer of the body and fuel tank.
According to Stewart Prince, mechanical engineering professor and faculty adviser for the two-unit class that is preparing for the FSAE competition, the ultimate goal is to give the students experience.
“The true objective isn’t to win, but to give the students real-world design experience,” Prince said. “To design a car, build a car, test a car. That’s the academic side. But if we win a competition, that can’t hurt.”
The Matador Motorsports team is a two-semester senior design project, and participants invest long hours in the project and the competition.
“We’ll stay up all night working on the car and then leave for breakfast,” said Sacli.
“This is our first home after (our own home),” said Aurora, chief engineer of ignition, fuel systems and electronics. “We go home to sleep and shower, and then we’re back here.”
Sacli balances handling the responsibilities of project manager for the team, working an outside job, and trying to graduate.
But he said he enjoys the opportunity of the Motorsports team.
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it,” he said. “Its pretty much a dream come true for me.”