Ten months ago, the University of North Florida Osprey race car was a steel cage and aluminum pieces.
Now the 70-horsepower, 500-pound single-seat racer hits 60 mph in 4 seconds, Osprey Racing president and engineering student Ben Witten said.
Next, people will see how good its design and construction techniques are as the Osprey competes through Saturday in the 34th annual Formula SAE competition at Michigan International Raceway.
“The main thing I love about this car is what it brings out from everybody,” Witten said, noting they went from zero people to about 30. “It is not necessarily a part on the car, it is the people working on the car that I love.”
The Society of Automotive Engineers competition tasks students to design, build and drive a race car and face technical inspections, speed and handling tests and a 13-mile endurance run. The 120 college teams from the U.S., Europe and Asia must also craft marketing and design presentations. Six Florida and three Georgia schools also are competing.
“The biggest learning curve comes from learning how the car actually handles, because it doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world and it is designed by student engineers,” said Justin Tussey, Osprey Racing founder.
Tussey formed Osprey Racing three years ago so the school’s engineering students could use computer-aided design to craft a virtual race car. Computerized machines carved suspension, wheel hubs and other pieces from virtual blueprints out of solid aluminum.
The cars must have a steel tube chassis, at least a 60-inch wheelbase and full roll cage. Donations of cash and equipment covered the car’s $25,000 cost. The Osprey’s 600-cc Honda CBR motorcycle engine fits the rules, and the team can download engine and other data from onboard sensors.
“For a first-year team, we have learned a lot,” Witten said.
Tussey, Witten, Casey Foster and Evan Hathaway will drive in Michigan.
“The good news is that if you simply finish all of the events without breaking down, you are already in the top third, so that’s really our goal,” Tussey said. “… Honda R&D paid for me to fly to Columbus, Ohio, for an interview. A bunch of other people are getting job offers, so it is definitely paying off.”