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You probably don’t know it, but, the Engineering Department of Lancaster University competes every year in a motor racing event called Formula Student. This international event is hosted at Silverstone Circuit, just after the Formula One Event known as the British Grand Prix. I think some of you may have heard of that?
The competition is essentially a series of stages held over four days – five if you include bagging your campsite and putting the tents up! The various stages of the competition include inspections of the car, equipment, – but thankfully not the drivers or pit crew, as well as some presentations. Followed by the more ‘spectator friendly’ brake test, acceleration test, time trials, and of course the highlight, a conventional race.
Students studying for their Masters of Engineering have the option to be members of the Formula Student Team and take part in the event. The challenge set is to design, build, test and race a car within one academic year. Just in case you’re wondering that’s about nine months … please no comparisons with other stuff that takes that long!
In the 2010 event, Lancaster Racing succeeded in securing 38th place out of over 100 competitors, many of whom, especially the European Teams, have eye watering 500,000 Euro budgets or more! Naturally, being a British Team our budget is a fraction of the size and most of the work takes place in a shed.
The 2010 Lancaster team has also been recognised for its unique suspension system, which helped it take 18th place in the design challenge, as well as winning an award for the best use of integreated electronics. The fact that our drivers sent the car flying around the track just shows the effort put into the work, and the quality it produces.
Formula Student also allows spectators virtually unrestricted access to the pit lanes, so, should a car be wheeled off, visitors are welcome to have a look as quick last minute repairs are made, or just to have a look at the cars built by the competition.
Naturally, this year we hope to build on the experiences and lessons learned from the 2010 car and win the 2011 event. Not quite convinced that’ll happen, but it’s a goal.
For those interested, the Formula Student event is provisionally scheduled for the 14th to the 17th July 2011 and Lancaster Racing would welcome any interest from potential drivers, if they have a good track record of winning races! If so, please send a 150 word CV to [email]email@example.com[/email].