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Sheridan Motorsports 1st Time Entry: International Autocross Competition

The Sheridan Motorsports team has designed and built a weekend autocross race car, which will compete against 30 entrants from universities across Canada and the US at the Formula North competition in Barrie, ON from May 23-26, 2013.

The competition asks teams to assume the role of a manufacturer and present their prototype for an open-cockpit, single-seat autocross vehicle to a group of investors. Built with the weekend enthusiast in mind, their design must also be low-cost, reliable, and easy to maintain. The jury, which consists of experts from the motorsport, automotive and supplier industries, judges teams through a series of static and dynamic events in which teams earn points for everything from the car’s design, engineering, braking, acceleration, endurance and fuel economy to its production costs, business plan, and marketability.

“The fabrication of this race car was a journey for me and for other members of the team. Besides the technical experience that we gained through this project, we learned that we can achieve a big goal if we work together as a team.” - team captain Joe Yang

This is Sheridan’s first foray into a mature and highly competitive field. “We’re up against heavy-weights like Waterloo, Queen’s, U of T, McGill, Illinois, Michigan State and Toledo, many of whom have competed at events like this for the past 15 years” says Dr. Shaun Ghafari, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the team’s technical adviser. “Preliminary work began in November, 2011 with students contributing knowledge about steering and braking systems through projects built into their engineering courses. While numerous students from our business and engineering programs contributed many hours to the project, the bulk of the effort came from a core team of seven students from mechanical and electrical engineering and from marketing.”

Courtesy of Sheridan College Courtesy of Sheridan College

Courtesy of Sheridan College

Ghafari adds that 75 per cent of the car’s components were built on site at Sheridan. That includes the vehicle’s suspension system, chassis, brakes, steering system, pedals, drive train, electrical components, and body. “Many university teams don’t have that capability because they lack machine shops. The only thing we didn’t build ourselves is the engine – and hopefully as we grow as a team, we’ll be able to tackle that in the future too.”

“Business students have gained a unique and rewarding experience working with engineers to promote the Sheridan Motorsports SAE racing car to the Sheridan community and beyond,” says Professor John MacRae, a faculty adviser to the team from Sheridan’s Faculty of Business. “They utilized a range of marketing approaches including Social Media, Web, promotions and events to build strong support and awareness on campus and off. The opportunity to market a real physical product that is hands-on has made this one of the best experiences for our business students working in collaboration with engineering to mirror the real world.”

Sheridan and Conestoga are the only two colleges competing in the event, which also attracted an entrant from Estonia – namely, the Tallinn University of Applied Sciences. Sheridan’s team was generously sponsored by Samuel, Son & Co. Ltd., Panasonic Canada, Yale, Precision Stainless and SKF.