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10 ways to make your project faster | Advice a Formula SAE team | Articles

10 ways to make your project faster | Advice a Formula SAE team | Articles

What can you learn from a bunch of college students? Plenty, especially when they ranked third among a hundred teams at last year’s Formula SAE competition in Michigan.

That’s right, the University of Florida, which many know for its Gators football team, also has the phenomenal Gator Motorsports race team.

1. Fail-Proof Your Car

Photography Credit: J.A. Ackley

No matter how regularly you check the nuts and bolts of your race car, it always seems like you miss one. Plus, a fastener can loosen in between those checks over the course of a race weekend.

UF marks all tightened fasteners with a paint pen–a witness mark does it. This provides a very visual check to prevent a $1 bolt from costing you thousands of dollars–and possibly a win.

The team also uses pins on their wheel nuts for two reasons: to provide that necessary measure of safety as well as a visual marker for a developing problem. 

As an additional fail-safe measure, the wheel nuts on the right side of the car have left-handed threads. This helps the wheel nuts self-tighten while the car propels forward.

2. Read Between the Lines

Photography Credit: J.A. Ackley

Some of the best race engineers understand what’s not said in the rule book rather than what is. Case in point: UF’s rear wing, which consists of multiple elements.

“The logic behind this design is mainly due to the restrictions with the rules,” says Cam Lott, lead aerodynamics engineer for Gator Motorsports. “There is a very small area in which aerodynamic devices are allowed, and to maximize the effect of downforce gained from the rear wing, a design with multiple elements was chosen so that the boundary layer for each element was reenergized. Essentially, this allows wing elements to reach angles of attack of nearly 90 degrees, and the pressure differentials between the elements can all work together to achieve the best aerodynamic efficiency desired.”

3. Don’t Forget What’s Under the Car

Photography Credit: J.A. Ackley

The bottom of your car matters just as much as the top, especially when it comes to aero.

“The rear diffusers that attach to the floor of the car are quite special and…

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