Engineering lightweight solutions to the challenges presented by Formula SAE Competition has always been one of the chief goals of Penn State Racing. Our 2009 entry set the record for lightest car ever entered into competition at 289 pounds. That record was then broken in 2010 with Penn State Racing’s newest entry, weighing in at a featherweight 285 pounds. This record weight was achieved with a careful selection of lightweight materials (including extensive use of titanium and carbon fiber) and an overall attention to detail, ensuring that every pound of unnecessary weight was safely removed from the final vehicle.
Efficient Powertrain Design
One of the keys to the Formula SAE Endurance event is a balance between speed and efficiency, and, while lightweight design goes a long way in achieving this balance, proper choice of powertrain is also vitally important. Penn State Racing’s 2010 entry achieved this balance by converting a Honda CRF450x to run a custom fuel injection and tuning setup, utilizing a MoTeC ECU. This configuration allowed Penn State Racing to achieve compact packaging, fuel efficiency, and a wide powerband; all features critical to a formidable FSAE powerplant.
All of Penn State Racing’s suspension design is done in-house with an emphasis on maximum cornering ability and overall driving stability. The majority of the suspension is machined from titanium, further reducing the weight of the car and therefore improving handling response. All of this is wrapped around a chromoly steel frame, which has as much focus on driver safety as it does on proper suspension geometry.
Taking Control of the Car
Easily one of the most important aspects of any racecar is the connection between man and machine. That is why the controls and electronics received a large amount of attention on Penn State Racing’s 2010 entry. Information was fed to the driver through a custom built LED tachometer and LCD display on the dash. Control of the car was then accomplished by way of a custom carbon fiber steering wheel, a machined titanium shifter, and hand made titanium pedal assembly, all serving both to reduce overall weight and bring the driver one step closer to being one with the car.