SAE, Society of Automotive Engineers, hosts three Baja competitions in the United States each year. The East, Midwest, and West regions each host one of the competitions with the specific locations changing each year. For this upcoming season, the locations are Ohio, Oshkosh, and Oregon. Each competition is limited to 100 teams and is 4 days long consisting of static and dynamic events.
The first two days of competition are all the static events. The first day is team registration, engine check, and business presentation finals. The second day is design presentations and tech inspection. The last two days are all the dynamic events. The third day is acceleration, sled pull, maneuverability, and specialty. The last day is the endurance race and awards.
Hill Climb or Traction
The Acceleration Event is designed to measure each vehicle’s ability to come up to speed quickly from a standing start. Acceleration is measured as the time to complete a 30.48 m (100 ft.) or 45.72 m (150 ft.) flat, straight course from a standing start. The course surface may vary from pavement to loose dirt.
This event tests the vehicle’s relative ability to climb an incline from a standing start or pull a designated object, e.g., progressive weight skid, vehicle, or chain along a flat surface. The traction event may take place on a straight or curved course.
Maneuverability is designed to assess each vehicle’s agility and handling ability over off-road terrain. Teams will attempt to maneuver through the course with a minimum time. The course may consist of a variety of challenges at the organizer’s option, possibly including tight turns, pylon maneuvers, ruts, bumps, drop-offs, sand, rocks, gullies, logs, and inclines.
The objective of the engineering design evaluation event is to evaluate the engineering effort that went into the design of the vehicle and how the engineering meets the intent of the market. Students will be judged on the creation of design requirements and the ability to meet those requirements, computer aided drafting, analysis, testing and development, manufacturability, serviceability, system integration and how the vehicle works together as a whole.
The purpose of the Cost Event is to provide teams an opportunity to show the cost/benefit design decisions used in the prototype vehicle. The Cost Event aims to compare the total vehicle cost for each team against all other teams at the competition. The Cost Report will be summarized in an online format where teams can complete their overall BOM (Bill of Materials) with material and manufacturing costs.
The Business Presentation event evaluates the team’s ability to develop and deliver a comprehensive business, logistical, production, or technical case that will convince outside interests to invest in the team’s concept. Teams assume that the judges represent different areas, including engineering, production, marketing, and finance.
The Main Event
The 4-hour Endurance Race
The endurance event assesses each vehicle’s ability to operate continuously and at speed over rough terrain with obstacles in potentially adverse weather conditions (rain, snow, etc.). The endurance event may be run for time or for distance. The default is four (4) hours and the vehicle with the most laps (orbits) around the course is declared the winner. The endurance course is a closed loop measuring approximately 0.8 km (0.5 mi.) to 3.2 km (2 mi.). The endurance course will feature different surfaces (e.g. dirt, grass, sand, mud, gravel, stone, and asphalt). The endurance course will feature various obstacles and terrain to test the vehicle’s durability, traction, and speed.