I wanna’ go fast! The University of Auckland’s Formula SAE Car Story.
Late in the heat of a very humid, very Auckland-like Thursday afternoon I arrived at a rather plain-looking commercial garage block. Where a dreary looking building housed by far one of the most well thought out and well designed machines I had ever seen.
I met Jonathan through the Bimmersport forums and he invited me to come and shoot the car in its half exploded, half aero-strewn-across-the-floor state. Eagerly I took up his offer and not really knowing what I would be shooting I arrived to meet some of the other boffins in charge of this project. Meeting them was an experience in itself.
Upon arrival instantly realizing that I was surrounded by people with very large heads and IQ’s far greater than my own I attempted to compensate for my lack of a degree with some of my classic witty 80’s porn humor, unfortunately this fell upon ears that were already filled with complex equations and ground effects theories. Regardless of the size of their cranium, the boffins certainly knew how to build a car and I was blown away by the amount of work and time invested in this project. I had to learn more.
At the front of the garage sat their simulator, basically a cut down Logitech G25 gaming steering wheel and pedal combo merged into the mutant chassis of a previous generations car. The toy for every man
Moving to the middle of the garage , there in its semi-disassembled state sat the current seasons car, the M09. Holy son of carbon! This thing was amazing, I instantly fell in love with the jungle gym of adjustable arms and immaculate build quality. The carbon monocoque chassis and carbon steering wheel with menacing looking launch and traction control switches looked impressive in the dying afternoon light. Wind tunnel tested aero sat innocently lying around a ghetto looking dyno rig. And the remains of cars from previous campaigns littered the floor. It all made for a very nice looking mess.
Now I should also mention that these guys design and fabricate absolutely everything they can themselves, right down to the disc rotors and in some years even their own calipers. The epitome of do-it-yourself NZ motorsport. Associated with the University Auckland after class they also find time to manage their own fundraising and wouldn’t be here without the love from some very serious sponsors.
Power for the current seasons chassis the M09 comes courtesy of a 450cc single cylinder Yamaha WR450 dirt bike head mated to their own custom crankcase and transaxle. This engine produces around 47hp and the entire engine and rolling chassis minus driver weighs in at a feathery 180kgs. All in all, making for a rather quick package. Lubrication is provided from a custom dry sump setup and an Autronic SM4 ECU handles engine duties whilst a datalogging MOTEC feeds real-time data to the driver via an in house designed touch screen LCD dash.
Sitting at the far end of the garage in a dimly lit corner, partially hidden underneath an old tarp I spotted the M08 used in the 2008 season. A 600cc inline 4-cylinder supercharged chainsaw wielding mass murderer. Covered in dust and cracked fibers from the beaten rear diffuser, this thing really looked like it could hustle spare change from a pimp. It was beautiful.
I’d like to extend my thanks to Jonathan and the rest of the boffins for letting me shoot their car. If you’d like more info on the car, team, or history check out http://www.fsae.co.nz/
Best of luck for the rest of year dudes!