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The University Magazine

Baja team challenges on land, through water and in the air


One of RIT’s two entries takes to the air in the endurance event, finale of the 2010 Baja SAE Rochester World Challenge.

Baja was back in Rochester and off-road race teams braved the elements, hills, rocks and water at the 2010 Baja SAE Rochester World Challenge June 11-13. Cornell University won the overall championship, and RIT’s two entries placed third and 10th overall.

For three days, 89 teams from the United States, Canada, South Korea, India, France and Venezuela participated in hill climbs, chain pulls, suspension and traction tests, culminating in a four-hour endurance event through the land course and water obstacle.

“It was a remarkable event, from start to finish,” said Sam Barill, manager of collegiate programs, SAE International. The Society of Automotive Engineers sponsors national and international student engineering design events such as the Rochester Challenge. This is the third time RIT has hosted one of the major U.S. events.

“I love the sound of hundreds of engines revving up,” stated Ryan Hurley, RIT Baja team member, at the start of the endurance final. “This event was awesome.” Teammate Matt Maccione, driving the No. 83 car, led for most of the endurance race followed by the second RIT car, driven by Nick Liotta.

For several of the teams, including Cornell, this was the first time competing in the water challenge. “We had been working especially hard on research, design and testing of our flotation and propulsion systems to get up to speed with teams that have been floating for years,” says Andrew Cypher, co-team leader for Cornell University. The Big Red Racing team placed third in the event.

One of the final awards given, the Determination Award, went to Troy Page and James Coleman. While most crews average 15 members, the two-man team from James Madison University in Virginia, alternated driving responsibilities for all events throughout the weekend.

“We practiced at the lake near school,” said Page, an industrial design student at the college, “and we figured, ‘Hey, the car floats, let’s go.”

Michelle Cometa