SJSU Spartan Racing students build Formula and Baja style cars for national competitions

Dustin Dorsey Image
Friday, May 3, 2024
SJSU Spartan Racing students build cars for national competitions
Each year, Spartan Racing creates brand new fully-electric formula SAE and gas-powered Baja-style vehicles, and it's 100% student-made.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Finishing touches are being made on two high-performance race cars at San Jose State.

Each year, Spartan Racing creates brand new fully-electric formula SAE and gas-powered Baja-style vehicles.

"This entire program is 100% run by students, organized by students and all the work is done by students," said Spartan Racing President Patrick McGowan. "All the welding, fabrication and driving, and even the racing, too. We do it all."

From the ground up, every gear and every wire, it's a labor of love by a group of 100 SJSU engineering students.

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Balancing these projects on top of school work is no easy task.

But the cars take what students learn in the classroom and make it tangible.

"It's unlike anything else you get to do in college," said Spartan Racing Project Manager Spencer Guinther. "And it's kind of the value of Baja, SAE and formula alike, is you're really getting these real-world experiences and that's why the rest of the industries finds this program so valuable. And that's why we find it so valuable as well."

But it's not just for show. The team loves to see these cars go.

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SJSU's Baja team is coming off of a successful trip to Texas, where the vehicle competed in a four-hour endurance competition.

Meanwhile, the Formula team's June event is focused on static and dynamic events against some of the most prestigious schools in the country.

Last year's model was the fastest EV they've created, going from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds.

This year's car is even faster.

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"I would say it's a refined version of this car," McGowan said. "I can't quantify how many tenths or seconds that we're expected to gain from the vehicle. However, we know it will be faster simply because of build-quality, battery life and loss of weight."

This didn't happen overnight. It's months of late nights and hours of work and it's led to more than just a completed car.

"As you work to manage this and communicate this with people on a deeper level than you could with a project member in a classroom, for example, you just get a lot closer," Spartan Racing Business Team Member Robine Van Veen said. "And I'm just excited for people to show off the hard work that they've been putting in all year."

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