I came across Genius Garage this evening. It looks like a great intern opportunity for college students. It would allow FRC alumni to continue on a similar trajectory, facing open-ended challenges.
This is a video where the founder, Casey Putsch, speaks about their experience starting a (historic) Indy Car team. His objectives seem to be very similar to those of the FIRST community. He is uniquely qualified to lead such a program having built a replica of the Batmobile powered with a gas turbine…
This is a short article about the program that contains an interview with Casey.
I remember seeing that VINwiki video. It’s certainly a very interesting potential but I’m not sure what educational advantages it gives over many of the already existing FSAE programs at colleges. In a way FSAE is the exact same except you build the car from the ground up rather than buying a competition chassis. Buying an old official open wheel race from a class other than formula vee, 3, or ford can be extremely expensive not to mention that there are very limited quantities of them. I’ve had no luck finding any other chassis than the above mentioned listed for less than $25k and I couldn’t imagine having to find parts for some of the cars as a lot of them are one offs.
I don’t hate the idea of restoring older indycars, in face I would love to be a part of that someday, but I just don’t think its a good fit for college in a similar way that large battlebots are not a good fit for a wise range high school sport.
I would highly recommend checking out FSAE if you already haven’t. For it you are practically given free range on what car to build with a very lenient rule book, at least in racing terms. This leniency also makes FSAE quite cheap to participate in, often FSAE teams budgets are less than that of FRC teams. The cars themselves can also be a lot simpler than an already build race spec car. While some teams make some really complicated electric cars that take hundreds of people to complete most just use an engine from a sport bike with a large aftermarket community and readily available parts.
If you really wanted to another alternative would be to participate in forumla vee though if you did that in the US you would find that its not too common here. Its more of an Australian thing. In formula vee the rules are stricter but your cars can compete in actual races which you can not in FSAE. The cars are also cheap and rely more on driver skill than anything because you are forced to use a vw bettle flat 4 engine restricted to 44hp. I personally haven’t heard of any colleges doing this as FSAE is often easier but it could definitely be done and would be fun.
I can see running a Baja SAE entry on $20k-$35k (shoestring to comfortable). I don’t see FSAE working out under $40k, more like $50-60k. I know some FRC teams run $80-120k/year with 40+ students, but I’d expect most smaller teams function just fine near $20k?
You could run an fsae team for under $20k. The cars themselves can actually be decently “cheap” to build. The biggest cost for a budget team will usually be the tube bending for the chassis if you decide to send it out. A semi-competitive car can come in under $12k easily. Less if you have access to people with a salvage auction license who can buy you a wrecked bike for the engine + ems. After that you have event registration which varies but is about $2k. That leaves you $6k for transportation and other stuff your forgot but there is often someone on the team with a car trailer so transportation cost can be quite low. Unlike FRC the students mostly make their own travel/rooming accommodations so that part of the cost never sees the teams budget. All this being said these numbers are gained form observations of established teams with already existing tools. If yo need to buy a bunch of tools and were ran out of the university campus I wouldn’t be surprised to see the cost go way up. It’s also possible to do a lot more work than just the minimum to get a car going so the cost can add up quickly. It’s not unheard of for the powerhouse teams of the FSAE world to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the team with sponsorship that cover everything from teams space to tools to transportation/accommodation to events.
All that being said often wasn’t the correct word to use. It implies that there are a lot of frc teams out there with budgets over $25-30k which there really isn’t. I’ll change the statement to “More often than you would expect, FSAE teams budgets are less than that of FRC teams.”
Cash cost, sure, before in-kind sponsorship
So the students donated the travel/rooming costs on your team(s)? Not an option for a public university in CA (or even if it was an option, it didn’t seem right to us).
Some students and families did donate to the team, but it was by no means required.
If by donating you mean carpooling to an event and paying for your own hotel room then yes. It kinda gets treated like any other road trip with friends would. You drive up in a car, split the gas cost between all the people in that specific car, maybe throw a little extra towards the owner to account for wear and year. Then get a hotel room and divide it up by the number of people staying there.
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