FSA Competiton

Hope College Formula Racing out of the 108 teams that participated in the held at Michigan International Speedway on Wednesday-Saturday, May 8-11.

Hope also received the “Everybody In” Award, presented by General Motors in recognition of team culture and preparedness for a more sustainable future, and was in the top 10 in two of the five driving events.

The 108 college and university teams that participated were from throughout the United States and Puerto Rico as well as Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Poland.  Hope’s finish was its second highest in its six appearances at the speedway event since 2010.

“The car performed flawlessly with no issues anywhere,” said Carl Heideman, who is director of process and innovation at Hope the staff adviser of the Hope College Formula Racing student organization.

“This event is a big deal for R1s, tech universities, the auto industry and Elon Musk's companies (mainly Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company),” he said.  “About 150 teams in the U.S. and 600 in the world compete. We are one of two liberal arts colleges that regularly compete (York College of Pennsylvania is the other). We’ve been in the top 15% in the U.S. and world since 2018. We are approaching the top 10% in both categories with this result.”

The Formula SAE competition is not just a race.  Instead, the teams are evaluated in a series of static and dynamic events, including presentation, design, cost analysis, acceleration, cornering ability, maneuverability and handling, fuel economy and endurance.

Hope was among only 87 teams to pass the initial technical inspection and qualify for the five dynamic events that followed (acceleration, skid-pad, autocross, endurance and efficiency).  With some of the remaining teams’ cars experiencing mechanical issues at different points, only 45 participated in all five events, and Hope was among only 39 to complete the culminating endurance competition without the vehicle breaking down.  Hope took fifth place in endurance and eighth place in autocross (where the car is driven through a cone course for one timed lap).

The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style race car.  The prototype car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item.  Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is to provide standards while promoting clever problem solving.

The international Formula SAE organization provides a variety of design parameters within which the participants must work, but beyond that the teams make their own decisions.  Some of the parts are pre-fabricated, like the 600cc Honda motorcycle engine that provides the power.  Others — like the frame — are developed by the group, starting with initial concept, and then moving through design and theoretical testing using the computer and ultimately to fabrication and construction.

Hope competed with more than 100 teams from around the world at MIS during its debut appearance in 2010, and returned to MIS in 2016, 2019, 2021 and 2022. Hope placed 76th out of 102 teams in 2010, winning the William C. Mitchell Rookie Award in 2010 for having achieved the highest overall score among first-time teams. Hope finished 77th out of 115 teams in 2016; 30th out of 109 teams in 2019; 9th out of 45 teams in 2021; and 14th out of 90 teams in 2022.  The team was prepared to compete in 2020, but the competition was canceled.

In addition, Hope finished 11th in the international Formula SAE Lincoln 2018 competition in Nebraska out of 80 teams.  Also in 2018, Hope finished first out of 10 Great Lakes FSAE teams at the 2018 Lawrence Tech Grand Prix, and had the 49th fastest time out of 1,375 entries in the SCCA Solo Nationals autocross held in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The team has also competed dozens of times in regional and local events, winning or placing high in all of them.