Off-Road

Hopkins Baja team competes in 2017 SAE Illinois

Each year, Hopkins students design and build a single-seat off-road vehicle that can withstand rough terrain

Members of the Blue Jay Racing team said they considered last weekend's annual SAE competition in Peoria, Illinois a success, placing no. 42 overall.

"We have figured out how to do the static events and are becoming more consistent in dynamic events," said Brendan Szuwalski, a Johns Hopkins University Baja team member and rising senior. "The team was sitting in [an] excellent position at the end of Dynamics Day ... if [it] had survived the endurance race."

Each year, the Hopkins Baja team designs and builds a single-seat off-road vehicle that can withstand rough terrain. The competition includes dynamic events—such as acceleration, hill climbs, and rock crawls—and a single, four-hour endurance race, as well as static events such as a cost audit and design presentation.

The team experienced repair difficulties on Endurance Day when the car's frame became fractured halfway through the race. The frame was only meant to sustain two competitions, rather than three.

"It was a painful lesson that we learned. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of a top 10 finish," Szuwalski said.

Despite these final results, Hopkins Baja made a number of achievements throughout the June 7 to June 10 competition. The team earned a no. 10 ranking in the sales event, where members gave business pitches to a panel of investors to generate financial support for their car. John Moore, a rising sophomore, and Szulwalski earned the team's highest ever ranking in this round.

Hopkins Baja also earned its highest static placement after competing in the Cost Audit and Design Presentation events.

"The team's slow march towards greatness progresses on," Szuwalski said. "One season at a time."

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