We got to Lincoln, NE at a good time on Tuesday night, 06/18/2013. The team decided to get to the track early the following morning, which turned out to be a good idea. We got there almost an hour before the site opened to find a line of teams waiting to get in. Luck was on our side as we did not have to wait long for the gates to open. The students were able to get into the registration line early, only having to wait an hour to finalize all the paperwork. As soon as the team was registered, team members got in line for the driver gear inspection.
It took two hours to get to the head of the driver gear inspection line, but all of our gear passed. At the completion of the driver gear inspection, the team was given a number for the mechanical inspection of the car. Again, we were very lucky that the line was moving very quickly, so the car rolled right over to mechanical inspection. Once the car got into the inspection area, time seemed to drag on. After an hour and a half with the technical inspectors, we only needed to change one fuel line. Luckily, our neighbors had the line we needed. The team worked quickly to swap the part. The inspectors let us come back in once the fuel line changed. The inspector signed off on the fix and we got our first sticker. One of the biggest achievements for this year was that we passed mechanical inspection on day one!
The second day is usually the busiest day during competition. Everyone has to make it to three presentations, and roll the car to the three dynamic test events. The team’s first event of the day was the Business Presentation. That portion of the competition requires teams to make a business case for their car to a panel of investors (judges). The students made it to the event site, and went right into the presentation. It lasted about 15 minutes. They answered the questions well, but there is some room for improvement.
By the time the business team made it back, the car had passed the tilt and noise tests. It was then time to get the team over to the Design Presentation where they would make an engineering case for the Hornet Racing car. Everyone was ready and armed with posters, and binders of information. It really impressed the judges. The team talked with the judges for an hour, and got done just in time to eat lunch before the Cost Presentation.
The Cost Presentation went very well, particularly when we presented our real case scenario. We also found everything on the car that the initial judges said was missing, which boosted our score a lot.
Right after finishing the Cost Presentation, the car was rolled over to the brake inspection area. After a few runs the car was able to lock up all four tires. We noticed there was a slight fuel problem during those runs though. But, after getting the car back to the paddock, we had to leave the site due to the competition rules. No teams are allowed to stay on site past 7:30PM
The team arrived right as the event site opened for competitors. The car was then taken out to the practice area to get the drivers ready for the acceleration, skid pad, and the autocross events for the day. We noticed that the fuel issue was persisting, but only when the car transitioned from left to right. We believed that the car would be able to complete the skid pad and acceleration events without issue, after which we would more closely look at the problem. Sadly, right when we were about to get on track for the skid pad, the car died and would no longer run.
Everyone rushed immediately back to the paddock to see what was wrong with the car. It was determined that the fuel pick up line in the fuel cell had collapsed upon itself, not allowing fuel to be delivered to the engine. That problem was fixed as quickly as possible, but not before the skid pad and acceleration events had closed.
After some time on the test track to verify the issue had been resolved, the team rolled the car over the autocross event. Drivers Brandon and Phil did a great job of posting some good times. We placed 21st in the Autocross event which put us into the second (later/faster) run group for the Endurance event on the following day.
The morning was spent hiding from rain, because there was a lot of it. We had a bit of fun hanging out in the trailer to stay dry. Luckily, the second run group was later in the day, so we had the time to wait out the rain.
Once the rain stopped, we got the car on the practice track where it ran great. We went to fill up with fuel after lunch and then headed to the Endurance event. We were the 7th car to run in the second group. Brandon went first and his 10 laps went beautifully. He had a good battle throughout with the Oakland University car. They traded positions several times. The car sounded great. Brandon was flagged for his driver change to Phil. Phil’s first lap was wonderful. At the start of his second lap, the team quickly noticed that there was a problem. The car was going slower and slower as Phil progressed through his stint. Phil and the car finally slowed to a stop and would not go any farther with less than three turns to finish the entire race.
The team was very disappointed and sad that the car would did not finish. But, in the end we need to figure out the problem so that it will not happen again. The 2013 team and car did amazingly well despite the issues we encountered on the trip.
Overall we placed 41st out of 80 teams, with highs of 7th in the Design Presentation and 21st in Autocross. We are all fired up for next year, and have already started on the 2014 car. We can not thank you enough for your support of the team. Without our sponsors, family members, faculty, support staff, and most of all, the dedicated team members and alumni, we would not be where we are today.