In its first event of the season, Rochester Institute of Technology’s Baja Race team topped the field. The team placed first overall at the SAE Baja Tennessee event, April 14-17, competing against 100 international collegiate racing teams.
With placements in the top five in several key events, including second place in acceleration and first in suspension, the team closed the competition with second place in the endurance race, and with top points overall to win.
The team came together at just the right time, said Doug Botto, RIT Baja team manager.
“We knew it was going to be tough and that we needed to be perfect to beat all of the top teams, but in the end, it was us on the top of the podium and I could not be more proud to be on this team,” said the third-year mechanical engineering technology major. “This isn’t it though. We have two more competitions, and we need to get better to stay on top to take the first place Mike Schmidt Memorial Iron Team award in Rochester this June.”
The Schmidt trophy is given to the season’s best team based on cumulative points in each of the three national events. It also holds significance for RIT’s Baja team as the trophy was established in 2001 to commemorate the late Mike Schmidt, who was a member of the team, and to highlight perseverance, engineering excellence and competitive success.
“It was an honor to witness the drive, determination and helpfulness of this team. Not only were they able to beat out some tough competitors for the top spot, but they did so while helping a lot of other teams that had technical issues,” said Marty Gordon, faculty adviser and professor of manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology. “This is a team that excels in its performance and sportsmanship. They truly demonstrate what is great about RIT students. The campus should be very proud of these women and men.”
RIT Baja Racing will be part of Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival taking place on Saturday, May 7, at the university. RIT Baja will be part of the university’s performance racing teams’ unveiling event at 11 a.m. at the Simone Circle that will also include RIT’s Formula Racing and Hot Wheelz Electric racecars.
In May, the team competes in California before returning to Rochester for the SAE Baja Rochester World Challenge taking place June 9-12 on campus and at Hogback Hill Motocross site in Palmyra. This will be the sixth time RIT has hosted an international SAE competition. One hundred collegiate race teams are expected including Cornell, Clarkson and Alfred universities as well as national and international colleges from Canada, India, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico.