Racing Team prepares for national competition

The USC Racing Team is completing its race car for the 2012 Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Western Conference Competition this June. The competition, held at the Lincoln Airpark in Lincoln, Neb., will involve more than 200 teams from around the world.

Gears · Members of the USC Racing Team design and construct a car each year in their workshop on the first floor of Parking Structure A. - Photo courtesy of USC Racing Team

The racing team spends one year designing and building the car from the week after the competition until mid-April. Within the Racing Team, there are four primary sub-teams that focus on different aspects of the design and assembly process, said Tyler Makin, USC Racing Team public relations chair.

“We have the power train team, which works on the transmission and engine; the electronics team, which tunes the engine; the chassis team, which connects the frame and the body; and the aerodynamics team which determines the most aerodynamic way to build a body around the frame using full carbon fiber,” Makin said.

Each team submits one car to the competition in either the static or dynamic category.

“The static events are comprised of a design presentation, a business presentation and a cost analysis report about the car,” Makin said. “The dynamic events see the cars actually get on the road and race.”

This year the team is implementing a pneumatic system of changing gears, which utilizes air pressure and requires the driver to only push a button to change the gear, Makin said.

Elias Izpisua-Rodriguez, president of the USC Racing Team, said at this stage in the building process USC Racing is poised to deliver its best showing in the competition.

“We’ve all been putting in a ton of work and I’m pretty confident we’ll be in the top 20 or top 10, which is something USC has never done before,” Izpisua-Rodriguez said.

The USC Racing Team was founded in the 1980s and now has approximately 70 members on its roster, Makin said. The team works on the cars in the machine shop on the bottom floor of Parking Structure A.

The USC Racing team is open to students of all majors, although a majority of the club’s members are mechanical engineers.

“Being a part of the Racing Team definitely allows us to apply what we’ve learned in the classroom to the real world in very hands-on ways,” said Mike Kennedy, vice president of USC Racing. “Being a part of USC Racing has definitely been the most educational part of my experience at ’SC so far.”

Kennedy said that, in addition to the practical experience USC Racing Team provides, the team is also a tight-knit community.

“There’s a certain sense of camaraderie that comes from spending hours together in the shop and that’s probably my favorite part of the team,” Kennedy said.

Though the team does receive some funding from the Viterbi School of Engineering, most of the team’s budget comes from fundraising efforts.

“We contact potential sponsors and explain that they’ll get publicity and even possibly future engineers in return for support,” Izpisua-Rodriguez said. “Some of the larger companies give monetary donations, but many just give us different car parts that we can use.”

Assembly of the car is scheduled to be completed by mid-April. Approximately 12 team members will travel to Lincoln for the 2012 Formula SAE competition in June.