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Source: Raju Dandu, 785-826-2629,
Photo available. Download at
Cutline information: K-State Salina's Baja SAE car, pictured at the end of the competition, was one of 26 cars that finished the race. Photo by Trista Gorrell.
News release prepared by: Natalie Blair, 785-826-2642,

Friday, June 3, 2011


SALINA -- It wasn't just NASCAR drivers who took to the track over Memorial Day weekend. Kansas State University Salina's Baja SAE team set a record while competing against 99 other teams from around the country at the 2011 Baja SAE Kansas competition, May 26-29, in Pittsburg.

The team finished 24th out of 100 teams -- the highest placing ever for K-State Salina -- and was one of only 26 teams to finish the endurance race.

The Society of Automotive Engineers' national Baja competition brings together student teams from around the world who have spent the school year prior to the competition building an off-road vehicle that will withstand adverse conditions and rough terrain during the four-hour-long endurance race at top speeds of 30 mph. All Baja cars must use a specific engine that cannot be altered. Teams must adhere to a strict set of rules and each car goes through an intensive prerace check before it is allowed in the race.

"Judges go over every car with a fine-tooth comb before the race," said Colin Tipton, senior in engineering technology, Munden, and the K-State Salina Baja SAE club president. "They look for everything from a loose bolt to a major rule violation."

Teams alternate between build years and improve years, according to Raju Dandu, professor of mechanical engineering technology and the team's adviser. This was a build year, which means the team started the car from scratch. The team will spend the next year improving the car's performance.

"When it's a build year, you really just hope to finish the race and hope you come home with the car in one piece," Dandu said. "We're already ahead of the game for next year because we won't have any major repairs to make."

In addition to the endurance race, the cars are tested in four other events. The team placed 22nd in acceleration, 32nd in suspension, 41st in maneuverability and 42nd in sled pull.

K-State Salina students build the car in their spare time. No academic credit is given and the majority of the team's funding comes from sponsors.

Sponsors of this year's car were Bergkamp Inc., Hoff's Machine and Welding, Milton Sandtoys, Salina Steel Supply, Salina Vortex, Society of Manufacturing Engineers' Student Relations Committee and Society of Manufacturing Engineers Chapter 52-Wichita. Individual sponsors were Edward and Shirley Bay, Cynthia Bentz, Raju Dandu, Todd and JaLue Smith, and Deb and Mark Tipton. Other sponsors were the office of the president and the K-State Salina Student Governing Association.

The team also received help from Justin Kuntz, mechanical lab technician, and Julia Morse, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology.

Along with Tipton, members of the 2011 Baja SAE competition team, all seniors in engineering technology majors, include:

Trista Gorrell, Centerville; Dustin Turner, El Dorado; Cade Pacey, Lincoln; Paul Bentz, Lindsborg; Luke Broberg, Salina; and Matt Wesely, Wichita.