RIT Baja SAE car unveiled at weekend ceremony

Team places in top 20 in first international competition

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Charles Neumann

Friends and family admire the 2009 RIT Baja SAE car and team just back from a successful international competition.

Despite minor transmission problems, the RIT Baja SAE team placed 21st overall among more than 70 teams at its first international competition in Brazil last month. Coming off this opening competition, the team officially unveiled the Baja car April 4 among friends and family in the Slaughter Building.

Chris Crowley, team manager, welcomed guests and talked about the Baja car the team built for this year’s competitions. “We designed a car that can take severe punishment over rough terrain. The design team members make Baja magic truly possible,” he told the gathering.

In the March competition, RIT Baja placed second in the suspension and traction competition, third in the log pull and 13th in the design category. Each year, several of the key components of the car are rebuilt or refurbished. “Some of the parts are reused; sometimes we have to make new parts, and we always rebuild the frame,” said RIT Baja team member, Mike Gebrian, a third-year mechanical engineering technology student.

The crowd cheered as the Baja car made a speedy entrance, taking a few turns around the parking lot before it was brought inside for viewing. “He’s having way too much fun,” observed one guest.

Fred Walker, dean of RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology, was awarded honorary membership on the Baja team and given an official team helmet, designed and airbrushed by Matt Wolf, a first-year business student. Walker joined the team in Brazil; it was the first RIT Baja event he attended since becoming dean in August 2008. “It was the first time someone of your level came with us, and you survived us,” Crowley said. “The only rule now is to get muddy!”