By Published: Oct. 10, 2018

The CU Boulder Racing Team has spent the past year conceptualizing and designing a race car to compete next summer in a Formula SAE race in Lincoln, Nebraska. Now they just have to build it.

The CU Boulder Racing Team is a student organization that competes in road racing events. Formula SAE, an intercollegiate engineering competition hosted by the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), is the largest engineering competition in the United States, said Behruzkhon Rashidov, who founded the racing team in 2016 during his freshman year.

Racing team's car rendering, 1
Rendering 1

Racing team's car rendering, 2
Rendering 2

“Every university with an engineering program comes together to compete,” said Rashidov, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. “It’s very much industry driven, so there’s a huge benefit for students for networking and getting jobs. It’s not unusual for students to come away with job offers.”

The Formula SAE competition challenges students to come up with small, open-wheel race cars.

The team has more than 90 graduate and undergraduate male and female members. With students from different majors and interests, many creative ideas are brought to the workbench.

All cars must adhere to strict regulations set by SAE, but there is no reference car on which to base their design. What they choose to build is up to them.

CU’s car is an aggressive aero-package, Rashidov said. It will reach a top speed of more than 100 mph. The 100-horsepower car will weigh 400 pounds and generate more than 400 pounds of downforce at 35 mph. Many modern supercars employ similar technology that channels airflow to hold the car more firmly to the road during cornering.

“It’s going to be really quick,” he said. “It will go from zero to 60 mph in as little as two seconds.”

The team will display its CU colors by painting the car black and gold.

Safety is a top priority. The car has a roll hoop, a fender designed to withstand a significant crash, and an onboard fire suppression system. The driver, who is strapped into a five-point harness, wears full personal protection racing gear that includes a fireproof suit, gloves, socks and shoes.

The Formula SAE competition is not just about who crosses the finish line first. During several trials, the team is judged on the car’s design, build, cost, fuel efficiency and the students’ presentation to judges. An autocross trial will determine which cars maneuver the fastest, and a 30-minute endurance trial will ensure sure the cars can last at least that long.

CU Boulder Crowdfunding

Visit the crowdfunding page to help support the Racing Team project.

Support CU Boulder's Racing Team

Learn About Crowdfunding

The excitement and accomplishment of building a Formula SAE race car is just one motivating factor for the CU Racing Team. It’s also about the engineering, science, teamwork and the hands-on application of design. Competing in the Formula SAE hones the students’ problem-solving, and communication and presentation skills—valuable experience to have when they’re applying for a job. 

The CU Racing Team has two subdivisions, one for Formula SAE racing and one for endurance racing. This is the first Formula SAE race car that students have designed and are building. The students have competed inthree endurance road racing events with cars they have modified from old vehicles.

After spending the past year designing the Formula SAE race car, construction begins this month. The goal is to complete the car by February, which gives the team four months to test it before the race in June 2019. All the team members will have the opportunity to take a turn at the steering wheel. A qualification process will determine who drives in the race.

The team is crowdfunding for the cost of building the car and to send some of the team to the Formula SAE race in Nebraska.

“One of the best ways for a student to apply their education is to design and build something,” said Rashidov, who is eager to drive the race car. “We’ve spent a year working on every detail, making sure it all comes together. Seeing the finished renderings is a great feeling, but to actually drive it will be really exciting.”

To help support the CU Racing Team as it builds the race car and compete next summer in a Formula SAE race in Lincoln, Nebraska, go to the team’s crowdfunding page.