ARLINGTON - Collegiate auto racing teams from across North America will meet July 10 and 11, 2010, at The University of Texas at Arlington for the 10th Annual Texas Autocross Weekend to test their skills at driving cars of their own making.
Racing starts at 8:30 a.m. on Lot 49, at the southeast corner of the intersection of South Cooper and Mitchell streets. The teams break for lunch, then race from 1 to 5 p.m.
UT Arlington's SAE team
Cars in the event are designed, built and driven by college students as participants in the Society of Automotive Engineers' Formula SAE program. The small scale cars are powered by motorcycle engines up to 600cc; a hybrid electric FSAE car will enter this year, too.
"Students learn so much about automotive engineering that you could never teach in a classroom," said Bob Woods, UT Arlington mechanical engineering professor and sponsor of FSAE racing. "They conceive, budget, design, build, fine-tune and drive these cars. They put in 20 hours a week and sometimes more to do all that."
Autocross is a form of racing involving a pattern of sweeping and hairpin turns, slaloms and chicanes. Cars race against the clock and will be timed by local autocross club Equipe Rapide. The best time out of three runs determines the score for each driver. The fastest time wins.
A decade ago, the competition featured five cars. This year, 35 cars from 14 different universities are participating. Other than UT Arlington, they UT Austin, UT San Antonio, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, University of Oklahoma, University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, University of South Florida, Iowa State University, University of New Mexico, University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Windsor, Canada.
"This event is just for bragging rights," Woods said. "The national engineering competition is held once a year, so this event serves as a place where students can visit with each other and trade rides without the pressure of competition and secrecy. They form lifelong friendships. It's a chance for them to relax and let their hair down."
On Sunday, July 11, the competition moves to Bedford in the parking lot of Pennington Field on Central Drive south of Highway 183. Teams will participate in Equipe Rapide's monthly autocross meet.
Events on both days are open to the public with no admission fee.
Woods said the Autocross teams have built better, more efficient and faster cars over the years as teams pass along innovations.
Major Formula SAE competitions are held annually in Detroit and around the world. The UT Arlington team placed sixth in the spring 2010 competition against 120 teams. UT Arlington teams have won the Detroit event eight times and they have also won at competitions in Great Britain, Australia and Japan.
UT Arlington's Formula SAE program is housed in the College of Engineering's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering division. The SAE work is representative of the kind of hands-on research under way at the University of nearly 29,000 in the heart of North Texas.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.