RIT Formula Racing zooms to big win at SAE Michigan this past weekend

Student-led race team takes first place overall at the annual international collegiate competition

Teddy Batkin/RIT

RIT Formula Racing took first place overall at the recent SAE collegiate competition in Michigan.

RIT Racing held a mere three-point lead at the top of the leaderboard for the Michigan SAE Formula electric competition June 14-16, but it was enough to give the team one of its biggest wins since it began racing more than 30 years ago.

RIT Formula took first place overall among 78 collegiate teams at the recent Michigan SAE Formula race at Michigan International Speedway. The team had top-10 placements in acceleration, autocross, and skid pad categories and aced the endurance event taking second place in the 22-lap event.

“All of our designers shared the common goal of improving every aspect from our prior car with a full chassis redesign, suspension, aerodynamics, drivetrain, and electric powertrain,” said Owen Sherbinko, '24 (mechanical engineering) RIT Formula chief engineer. “As we began to watch the car drive since March, we kept saying the same thing, ‘We’re going to win this thing’ and it came true. F32 [the name designation for this year’s car] is truly special.” 

Students on the RIT Racing team have competed in Formula competitions both in the U.S. and internationally since it began in 1992. Its previous successes came with close calls in California and its highest placements on an international list of highly competitive and successful collegiate Formula teams. In the past several years though, the team saw some challenges, but these were overcome through persistence and determination, said Sherbinko, a recent graduate of RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

RIT transitioned from a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle to an all-electric car five years ago, and placed fourth overall in 2018, not competing during the pandemic.

“It proved this team can overcome any disappointment or problem that comes our way and has given us exceptional mental fortitude to be able to take any problem at face value, no matter how large, and just get to work. All problems, whether big or small, can be solved with a full team like this,” said Sherbinko, who is from Springfield, Pa.

The Michigan competition is one of the largest in the U.S. with teams from universities across the globe. This year, competitors included Cornell University, Penn State, and Georgia Institute of Technology, along with many from across Canada and Brazil. Over the past few years, the SAE Formula competition has included both race cars with internal combustion engines and all-electric vehicles.

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