RIT Baja Racing places third in prestigious Mike Schmidt Iron Team Award recognition

Team takes top 5 overall placements in all its national competitions this season

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Provided by Steve Skurski

RIT’s Baja racecar was tops in acceleration, maneuverability and endurance.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Baja racecar design was recognized as the best among the 99 collegiate race teams competing at the Baja SAE competition in Illinois, June 4-7. But the racecar was also fast, taking top placements in acceleration, maneuverability and the off-road, four-hour endurance race, earning fifth place overall at the event.

RIT RIOT Racing placed in the top-five at all of its North American competitions. Throughout its season, the group also had top-10 placements in all individual categories of the competitions—design, presentation, acceleration, maneuverability, rock climb, and suspension and traction as well as in the demanding endurance race.

A solid performance by both the car and team improved upon last year’s competitions, and kept the current team on track with successes from teams in the past, said Steve Skurski, team manager and third-year mechanical engineering technology student.

“We had large shoes to fill coming into this season with three top 10 finishes last year. I know I felt the pressure to keep the reputation going, as I’m sure the other executive board and design team members did,” he said. “It has taken over 20 years for RIT Baja to get to where we are today and this comes from the hard work of team members past and present. To say that there is a ‘best feature’ on the car would be like taking a chapter from a book and saying its better than the rest. Our car did well because we worked as a team and built a well-engineered machine.”

At the end of each season, the teams that demonstrate perseverance, engineering excellence and competitive success with the highest cumulative points are eligible for the Mike Schmidt Memorial Iron Team Award. This year, RIT RIOT Racing placed third. The award is particularly significant for the RIT team as it is named after a former teammate who was instrumental in the team’s participation in Baja events as a strong, supportive competitor—to teammates and opponents—until his death in 2001.

“I've been impressed by the technical knowledge and character of this year’s RIT Baja team,” said Marty Gordon, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology and team academic advisor. “We have a mix of students from engineering, engineering technology and other majors who surprise each other every day with the diversity of their skills.

“The accomplishments of this group are truly a testament to the rigor of all the programs here at RIT, and prove that our students are ready to hit the ground running. The RIT team is an organization that other teams strive to emulate. Over the years, I have lost count of how many times our team has been complemented by those that we compete against. We are truly a world-class organization.”

RIT Racing took second place overall in its competition in El Paso, Texas, April 24-27, and fifth place overall at the second event in Kansas, May 22-25. Several videos from the 2014 competitions are available (RIT is car #3):

2014 Baja SAE Illinois – Endurance Race (full)

2014 Baja SAE Kansas – Endurance Race (highlights)

El Paso Times photo gallery from the event, including images of RIT Baja Racing