The Kettering University Baja Team traded mud for snow as they secured 12th place (out of 39 teams) on February 13 at the Blizzard Baja competition on the campus of Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Michigan.
“It was minus-7 with a windchill of minus-20 during the competition,” said Christopher Martus, Co-Lead of Ergonomics on the team. "We had to prepare ourselves and the car for the conditions.”
The teams were judged on speed (average lap time and fastest lap time) and endurance (number of laps).
“During the competition, we were jumping between seventh and 10th place. We fell to 17th after we had an electric failure but were able to climb back up to 13th after borrowing a switch from another team,” Martus said. “I think we had a pretty good weekend considering all we went through.”
The team finished ahead of lower peninsula rivals University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Michigan State University and one spot ahead of the host Michigan Tech. University of Illinois - Chicago won the competition by completing 48 laps at an average of 4:13 per lap. Kettering completed 40 laps at an average time of 6:05. Kettering’s best lap clocked in at 3:28.
“That’s pretty good for using last year’s car,” Martus said.
The Kettering Baja team is now focused on constructing a new car for their upcoming competition from April 14-17 at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee. Last year, the team had its two best finishes since 2011 at competitions in Maryland and Auburn.
The focus during this year’s build season is to enhance data collection from the vehicle while maintaining their lightweight design. The team is working on installing sensors that measure the amount of torque placed on the engine while going through the course.
“We are able to use that data and put it in our new design,” Martus said. “Our goal in the future is to get as many sensors on the car as possible because the more data we have, the better our design will be.”