SAE Baja is a student competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). A single seat off-road car is built from the ground up to compete against up to 200 collegiate engineering teams from around the world every year. Every team is limited to a stock 10hp engine so the engineering and design of the car is paramount. The competition requires students to balance design and cost with dynamic performance while following a strict set of safety guidelines and standardized rules. There are three North American competitions annually, and we attend the West competition which includes a sales presentation and a rock crawl dynamic event. Each competition is four days long, with the first two days dedicated to static events and the last two days for dynamic events.
Static Events are the events when the car does not move. These include the cost report, the technical inspection, and the design aspects of competition. The first day of competition is dedicated to technical inspection, where judges scrutinize every part of the car to make sure that it meets all of the competition rules and specifications. The second day is dedicated to the design aspect of competition, where gives teams a chance to explain to judges what separates their car from the rest, what testing was done to drive decisions, and to point out any other innovations. The cost report is submitted 8 weeks prior to competition and is also considered a static event.
Dynamic events take place on the third and fourth days of competition. The third day is exclusively for time trials. Each team races their car through a number of events including a maneuverability course, an acceleration track, a hill climb or tractor pull event, and a special event specified for each competition (water maneuverability, suspension and traction, or rock crawl). The fourth day of competition is reserved for a four hour endurance race in which all participating teams are on the same track at once, racing wheel-to-wheel. This part of the competition is the event worth the most points and makes designing and fabrication for durability paramount to success.