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Formula SAE

Competition Experience : FS Michigan 2008

After a year long struggle, hours of sleepless nights and lots of ups and down the first car of the IIT Bombay racing team – “Vayu” was ready to face the challenge of the Formula SAE Michigan 2008. After its long trip half way around the world, both the car and the team where at the Michigan International Speedway near Detroit the heart of the American motoring industry. Having arrived 3-4 days before the competition the car was carefully unloaded from the crate and reassembled to working condition. The 12 man team was ready for a challenge of a lifetime.

Day 1 It was a bright and sunny day and not a cloud in the sky. There was an announcement on the address system-“Rain in 6 minutes”. After a quick glance in the sky and concluding the Americans where as rubbish at weather prediction as they are at cricket, the team set about setting up the paddock and unloading the car, only to get drenched 6 minutes later. The “non-tech” team had gotten us a tent, a surprisingly large one and we up for the technical inspection. The rest of day 1 involved queuing, changing form wet weather tyres to slicks and then back to wets and then back to slicks. We saw other teams, it was the world finals that year in Michigan where the winners of all last year’s different FSAE and FS competition where present. We seemed only humble beginners to the colossus of Western Australia, TU Graz, TU Delft, RMIT and Michigan State University, but then of course we where. A special mention goes to Prof. Seah Kar Heng of NUS who was impressed by our first year effort and shook hands with us stating – “Asia-Asia bhai bhai”

Day 2 Technical Inspection was first thing in the morning. Within 10 mins we had a list of things to do to our car in order to compete mostly minor except the impact attenuator which the judges suggested that be changed for safety reasons. The other teams present at the competition where very willing to help, with some of them even willing to lend us their impact attenuator. However the team was quick to improvise and fabricated an impact attenuator quickly using some aluminium honeycomb and epoxy. For the rest of the day the hammer, the wrench, the pliers and cable ties where our friends as we prepared for a technical inspection again the next morning.

Day 3 It was afternoon then we had become the first Indian team to pass technical inspection at a Formula SAE event in the USA. The day was a very busy one however with all the static events happening almost simultaneously. The design event considered most prestigious was up first. The judges at the event where highly respected engineers from the automotive industry and the head judge was Mr. Paul Davis, who is one of the main engineers at the Daimler. This was followed by the cost event and the marketing presentation. Intimidated by the competition all our sentences in the competition started with – “We are a first year team from India so... “ Soon we realised thatv the judges where appreciative of our effort and where quite friendly. They provided useful criticism and at the same time encouragement. The events of the day proceeded smoothly.

Day 4 The delays from day 1 had put us in a situation where we were going to miss the first of the dynamic events because we where yet to clear the tilt test, the noise test and the brake test. The tilt test was something the team was unsure of as it had not been tested before but the team moved smoothly past the test without any leakages or oil spills. The noise test was cleared in the second attempt. However, a leaky differential prevented us from the completion of the break test on that day. In the evening the entire team spent trying to fix the problem.

Day 5 After finally fixing the differential problem and reassembling the vehicle the car was ready for the break test by afternoon. The first 2 attempts at the brake test were not successful the driver had some issues shifting fast enough to gain enough speed. After a run in the practice area the test was attempted again to finally complete the brake test successfully. Although by then it was too late to compete in the dynamics. Although the team was slightly let down we decided to make most of it by bringing the car to the judges review so that we could learn more for the future. The judge we were presented was Mr. Doug Milliken. His book on vehicle dynamics is bible for FSAE and he is one of the most respected people in the paddock at that moment. He sent a good part of 2 hours advising us on improvements we should look for. Set some target for our future teams and was an absolute delight to talk to. While he said our effort was commendable but we had a long was to go.

The last day was the award ceremony – IIT Bombay racing Vayu has won the SAE Perseverance award given to the top 3 rookie teams of that year.  The prize was the set of Carroll Smith Book which would help us design better vehicles in the future.


  • Overall Length: 2500mm
  • Weight with Driver: 350 Kgs
  • Weight Distribution: 55:45 Rearward Bias
  • Wheels: Alloy 13" x 5.5" -- Aura Alloy Wheels
  • Tyres: 20 x 6.5-13
  • Design Ride Height: 50mm


  • Engine displacement: 600cc
  • Engine Make: Honda CBR 600 F4i


  • Chassis configuration: Tubular Mild Steel Space frame
  • Wheelbase:  70”  (1780mm)
  • Front Track:  48” (1220mm)
  • Rear Track:  45” (1145mm)
  • Frame Weight with Brackets: 30 Kgs
  • Crushable Zone Length: 300mm

Suspension and Steering:

  • Suspension configuration:  4-Wheel Independent, Push Rod
  • Suspension: Unequal length, non-parallel A-arms with 1" Travel in Bump and Rebound
  • Centre of Gravity Design Height: 250mm
  • Static Ackerman: 80% Ackerman
  • Static Roll Center Position: 50mm Above the Ground (Front and Rear)

Achievements by Vayu

Perseverance Award

As a professional racing team, We won the prestigious & first ever Indian SAE Perseverance Award in its debut at the Formula SAE Michigan 2008.

Best New Entrant Team

We were the best out of 25 new teams participating, and we made a mark on the Michigan International Speedway where 
there were already more than 100 teams participating