RIT Baja Racing wins Sportsmanship Award, places third overall in Oregon competition

Team caps year of top-10 placements at national events and with a built-from-scratch car in Brazil

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RIT Baja Racing took third place overall among 100 U.S. and international collegiate race teams at its final competition this year in Portland, Ore.

RIT Baja Racing placed third overall in its final event of the season in Oregon, May 27-29. The top placement caps an outstanding season that saw the team recognized for both its sportsmanship on the field throughout the year and for its ability to overcome its car being impounded in Brazil. In the latter competition, they were able to build another car with spare parts from other teams in a matter of days.

That first competition set the tone for the remainder of the season. At each of the three remaining events, the team never placed lower than fifth in the dynamic categories acceleration, maneuverability and hill/rock climb challenges.

In individual events during the Oregon competition, RIT Baja took second place in the design category, third in the rock climb and acceleration events, fourth in maneuverability, fifth in the hill climb and eighth in the 4-hour endurance race. They were one of 100 collegiate racing teams from across the U.S. and around the world.

“When we won the Sportsmanship Award, we received a standing ovation from the other participants for our efforts in helping other teams,” said Marty Gordon, academic adviser for the team and professor of mechanical and manufacturing engineering technology. “To summarize this year’s performance—we had three top 10 performances plus our miracle four-day new car built in Brazil—it was a great year.”

RIT Baja Racing opened its season in early March in the town of Piracicaba, about two hours northwest of Sáo Paulo, Brazil. Despite their car being impounded by Brazilian Customs officials at the port of Itapoá due to bureaucratic red tape and errors in critical shipping documentation, the team acquired parts, gears and equipment from at least five other Brazilian teams, including host-team Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, to build another car.

They would go on to pass inspection and compete—and finish— the endurance race.

It was an exciting way to open the season, said team manager Doug Botto, a third-year mechanical engineering technology student.

“Overall, throughout the season the team faced many challenges in competition such as the penalties at the Maryland race in May,” he said. “But in the end, no matter what happens to this team, no one gives up. Not a single person on our team would call it quits until the race is over. It goes to show the true character of the team and the real passion that we share to build and compete with the car. This team is a family and we race together until the end.”

Returning to the U.S. the team participated in competitions in Auburn, Alabama, where they were 10th overall, in Baltimore, finishing in 8th place overall with their final event in Oregon.

Note: Photos from the team’s Oregon event can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/RIT-Baja-SAE/208643804377?ref=hl