Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

ethanol car

Iowa State University's Formula SAE team races to an 18th place finish during the 2005 competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

5-10-06

Contacts:

Tony Sartor, Iowa State Formula SAE Team, (563) 508-7342

Kurt Olsen, Iowa State Formula SAE Team, (515) 231-7902

Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917

Students, start your engines

AMES, Iowa -- The 80-horsepower Kawasaki ZX-6R engine turned the ethanol race car's tires for the first time on Monday.

Now the members of Iowa State University's Formula SAE team have the next week to test and tune the mini, open-wheel race car for the Formula SAE competition May 17-20 at the Ford Proving Grounds in Romeo, Mich.

Iowa State's team had its best-ever showing at last year's competition, finishing 18th in a field of 140.

The annual competition is sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers and tests students' ability to design, build and race cars. The students are judged on presentations about design, costs and business plans. They have to demonstrate their cars' acceleration and cornering. They take their cars through a quick and curvy half-mile time trial. And they test the cars on a 13.6-mile run that features speeds up to 65 mph.

About 20 Iowa State students have been working on this year's race car since November. They've designed and built just about everything but the engine and the tires.

Now that the race car is running, "We'll test it and test it for a couple of days to make sure nothing terrible will happen," said Kurt Olsen, the team's technical director and a senior from Newell majoring in mechanical engineering.

This year's car is similar to the one that ran so well in Michigan last year, Olsen said. One of this year's modifications is a stronger suspension to better handle race conditions.

But one thing hasn't changed: the Iowa State race car will continue to burn fuel made from 85 percent ethanol and it will feature the blue, green and black look of Rahal Letterman Racing's Team Ethanol car of the Indy Racing League.

Tony Sartor, the team's project director and a junior from Bettendorf majoring in logistics and supply chain management, said the car's major sponsors include the Iowa Energy Center, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and ICM Inc., a Kansas-based engineering firm that designs ethanol plants.

The team started burning ethanol fuel about three years ago, Sartor said.

"We're the only Formula SAE team from Iowa and ethanol is a product of Iowa," he said. "So we thought it would be a great promotion for Iowa."

And what about the racing? Will Iowa State's car be in the top 20 again this year?

"We don't know what this car will do," Olsen said. "We hope it will be better. But there are a lot of factors that go into this competition."

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Quick look

Iowa State University's Formula SAE Team is hoping for another top-20 finish at the annual Formula SAE competition May 17-20 in Michigan.

Quote

"We're the only Formula SAE team from Iowa and ethanol is a product of Iowa. So we thought it would be a great promotion for Iowa."

Tony Sartor, the team's project director and a junior from Bettendorf majoring in logistics and supply chain management, speaking of the race car's Team Ethanol paint scheme