Crimson Racing races up the leaderboard at annual competition


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —The University of Alabama’s Formula SAE team raced to a 17th place finish out of 120 other collegiate teams from around the world at the Formula SAE Michigan Competition earlier this month.

This year’s vehicle, named CR-17, led the team to their best finish to date. Headed by team captain Cole Frederick, the Crimson Racing team placed ninth in acceleration, 11th in design and 13th in presentation.

“We have worked long and hard, accumulating hundreds of hours, designing, building, and optimizing the CR-17, culminating in the best finish in our team’s history,” Frederick said. The team placed 42nd last year and set a goal of making the top 25 this year.

In the presentation portion of competition, student team members gave a group of investors a business pitch for their vehicle, and to judge design, industry professionals reviewed the vehicle and asked the student team members questions about the choices they made for the vehicle’s design.

“Team members explain and justify all the designs to show the judges their wealth of knowledge. With all the additional members on the team this year, we were able to prepare more analysis than previous years and felt that it helped throughout the event,” Frederick said. “We were just shy of being invited to the design finals, which is where judges ask follow-up questions to all of the teams that come in the top ten.”

The acceleration event consisted of four 75-meter straight line drives completed by two drivers who did two runs each. The fastest time is used toward the team’s score. Crimson Racing’s fastest time was 4.247 seconds, which beat last year’s 4.9 seconds and also reached the team’s goal of coming in under 4.5 seconds.

“We were the ninth fastest acceleration time in the entire competition,” Frederick said. “We were able to beat many teams that have significantly higher budgets.”

Crimson Racing was also pleased with their scores on their cost report, which is based on the cost of manufacturing the vehicle compared to other teams. The Alabama team competed in the skid pad and autocross competitions as well. The scores stayed similar to previous years in skid pad, but improved by 5 seconds in autocross, which raised the team’s ranking by nearly 20 spots.

The student team designs and manufactures a new formula style car for the competition each year. This year the students were able to reduce the vehicle’s weight to 412 pounds from last year’s 497 pounds by using smaller wheels and a carbon fiber body as opposed to fiberglass.

“The reduction was produced based on all the sub-teams working hard to reduce weight. Our team’s goal was to be under 450 pounds, so we are excited to come in below that goal,” Frederick said.

Team members say they have already started thinking about next year and have a goal of reaching the podium in 2018.

“Work has already begun on CR-18, and we have no intentions of slowing down,” Frederick said.

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In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,800 students and more than 130 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.