Organizers Trent Lindbloom and Bob Schroer were all smiles as hundreds of dusty, tired and happy competitors in the 2014 Baja SAE-Kansas gathered to eat fried chicken and receive awards at the closing ceremonies just outside the Kansas Technology Center.
“Overall, it was a great event.” Lindbloom said. “We have heard very positive things from SAE and the teams.”
From the beginning, Lindbloom said, the event was designed to test the students to the limit.
“Every day, every event, every obstacle that they had to overcome was part of the learning experience,” Lindbloom said. “Even on the last day, the students were learning.”
This was the second time Pitt State has hosted Baja SAE-Kansas. The first time was in 2011. Lindbloom said the support of the community was one of the reasons Baja SAE returned to PSU.
“One of the things that impressed them most (Baja SAE officials) was the community and how they made the competitors feel welcome,” Lindbloom said. “When the teams came into town, they saw welcome messages on marquees and signs along Broadway. That’s not the case in many cities where the competitions are held.”
More than 1,100 competitors from nine countries took part in this year’s event.
Staging an event of this magnitude required uncounted hours of work by volunteers and people from every department in the College of Technology.
“The support we get from our colleagues throughout the KTC is phenomenal,” Lindbloom said.
For the Pitt State team, competing on their home course was exciting and a bit intimidating.
“It does add a little bit of pressure,” said sophomore Jacob Sanders. “Not only do you want to do well, but you also feel a bit responsible for making sure everything goes well. We wouldn’t trade it, though. There’s no better place to have Baja than here at Pitt.”
New to the event this year was Bajas On Broadway, an event in downtown Pittsburg that allowed all of the teams to show off their Baja cars.
Baja-Kansas concluded with the popular endurance race. If the endurance race in 2011 was remarkable for the mud, what participants will remember about this year’s race was the dust, and a level of difficulty that sent many competitors scrambling to repair their crippled cars.
“Dusty,” said Erik Rasmussen, driver of the winning Iowa State car, describing the course. “The logs on that turn were really rough. It was a fast track. I really liked it. It was amazing for spectators.”
Unfortunately for the Pitt State team, the endurance course, designed to break even the toughest cars, did its job on the host team, forcing them to spend much of the race attempting to repair their car.
The top three overall teams were Centro Universitario Da FEI, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Iowa State University. •