Day 4: MRT Volunteers for Endurance
Day 0: We started off the day bright and early, leaving the shop at 5:30AM after packing up the 8-person passenger van with lawn chairs, umbrellas, team shirts, an empty cooler, and everyone’s personal belongings for the week. After picking up Simon in Ottawa, we began our long journey west with high hopes and open minds.
Many hours later, we found ourselves in Livonia, Michigan at the Roush Automotive facility, where we were given a tour of the engine shop, machine shop, and engine dynamometer rooms. We left after a few hours thoroughly inspired by what we had seen and heard. After a quick stop at a local Mexican food restaurant, we drove to the hotel in Hillsdale, Michigan where we fell asleep quicker than small children, exhausted after a long day of travel, and excited for the coming days.
Day 1: After a late wakeup call of 9:30 and a quick hotel breakfast, we bumped on over to the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan to register as spectators. We roamed around the paddocks, conversing with teams about their cars and their seasons. After filling our heads with ideas and plans for the future, we left the track in the early afternoon in the direction of Dearborn, Michigan and the Henry Ford Museum.
This is an amazing museum, even for non-engineers, even for non-racecar folk. You can only imagine what it was for a group such as us. We stepped inside of huge trains, looked into the presidential cars, went through the automobile history of America, stood next to colossal steam engines, perused past race cars and muscle cars and luxury cars, and walked through the cultural decades of the United States. Needless to say, they practically had to kick us out of the museum at 5:00PM, closing time, because we were nowhere near finished with our visit. We journeyed back to the hotel, but stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch game 7 of Bruins-Habs, where the camp was divided in terms of support. We journeyed back to the hotel and went to bed, excited for the following day where we would witness dynamic tech.
Day 2: The day started the same as the previous one, and we hurried to the track. We spent our day observing some design events, brake tests, and noise tests, while also visiting more teams in the paddocks and industry booths. The weather wasn’t great, and even though our team was no longer on the free pizza list, San Jose State University gifted us two of their pizzas. After a good chunk of the day had passed, we decided to leave the track around 5:00PM and have an early dinner at a local restaurant. We spent the night in the pool and the hot tub. Later in the evening, Vince and Simon drove to Detroit to pick up Ryan at the airport, who was flying in to join us.
Day 3: Dynamic events started on Day 3, with accel and skid pad in the morning, and autocross in the afternoon. Although it was still quite chilly and windy, the sun was still out. We spent most of the day watching the cars on track. There were some impressive performances, as GFR took first in autocross and skidpad, while Saginaw Valley State University won the acceleration event. We listened to the award ceremony from inside the van, and went to a late dinner with our friends at Akron and ETS at Patriots, a team favorite.
Day 4: The final day was jam packed. We left the hotel earlier than most days, excited to take in the endurance event. It was once again a beautiful but slightly chilly and windy day. The slower cars went in the morning with the quicker cars finishing off the afternoon. Luckily enough, four of our team members (Paul, Lewis, Simon, and Matthieu) were allowed to volunteer on track for the afternoon endurance event, allowing them to get very close to the action. They performed all the normal duties of a volunteer, tracking cone hits, pushing cars off track, waving colored flags, etc. By the end of the day, we were all thoroughly satisfied with one of the most eventful endurances we had ever seen. We saw three fires in a crash and multiple broken/flying parts. Thankfully, no one was injured at any point, and we wish all the best to the teams that broke parts of their cars. In the end, 46 out of 90 cars finished endurance, with GFR winning the event.
After watching the design review (where ETS took first in design) and the business presentations, we once again packed into the van, parked behind the main tent, stayed warm, and listened to the award ceremony on the radio. GFR took first place overall, with TU Munich and Rennteam Stuttgart rounding off the top three. Zips Racing of Akron somehow won around half of the raffle awards somehow, and the atmosphere was buoyant as Michigan 2014 came to a close. We spent the last night as we often do, celebrating at Patriots with ETS. We went to bed late, woke up late, and drove all the way home to Montreal, arriving at around 1:00AM on the 19th.
Overall Summary: Our first Michigan as a spectator team was definitely not a waste of time. For the new members, it was a great first glimpse at competition, allowing them to get excited for future competitions to come. For our veteran members, it was a chance to close the loop by seeing the designs and performances of other teams with respect to ours, in order to come back with a clearer path forward. For our alumns, it was a chance to relive past excitement and offer mentorship and insight to the newer generation. We strengthened bonds with other teams and our friends at Ford SVT and Roush. We held our heads high despite our setbacks, and we let everyone know that we are still working hard to compete against them all at next year’s competition.
Ford SVT for their continued support and guidance as we endure tough times
Roush for taking the time to show us around their facilities
ETS and Akron for their continued friendship, congratulations on some good results.
San Jose State University for giving us some of their pizza
Our alumni Simon and Ryan for joining us for the competition and offering us some valuable advice.
See you next year Michigan!