RIT Baja Team Finishes in Top 25 at First Meet in South Carolina

Off road vehicle takes second in design finals and maneuverability event

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Christina Buettner

Team project manager Nick Liotta took the wheel as the RIT Baja car lines up for the start of the four-hour endurance race in its first race in South Carolina. The team had high placements in static and dynamic events during the competition, but had to do repairs to the frame after a hard hit before returning to competition. RIT Tiger One placed 24th overall among 100 teams from the United States, Canada, Brazil and Mexico.

The Baja race season began for Rochester Institute of Technology in South Carolina, and the team placed in the top 25 overall among 100 teams competing April 8-12 at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville, S.C.

The RIT Baja team placed second in maneuverability and the design events; it had top-20 placements in the suspension, traction and acceleration categories.

“During the endurance race, our car was pushing some of the fastest laps of any competitor,” says team member Matt Wolff. “Unfortunately, we suffered a horrendous crash from a driver who rear-ended us midway through the race. A crash like that would prevent most teams from finishing, but we were able to weld a new frame and replace all broken components in under an hour.”

RIT was one of 100 teams registered for the event. The teams competing were from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. Sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers, Baja events are student design competitions. Teams design and build off road vehicles, participate in static and dynamic events and compete in a four-hour endurance race to cap the competition.

The team is scheduled for another meet May 20-23 in Washington state, and then returns home to host the SAE Baja Rochester World Challenge June 11-13.

RIT first entered a car in Baja competitions in 1990. The team took first place overall in its inaugural season and continues to rack up wins and competition honors.

“We have an extremely young team this year and that means experience is at a premium. With that being said, from what I saw in South Carolina, I cannot think of a more dedicated group of individuals that I would want to depend on,” says Chris Jones, RIT Baja project manager.