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UofL tops Midnight Mayhem mini-Baja race

by Scott Cambron, Midnight Mayhem race coordinator last modified Sep 28, 2010 02:30 PM

The University of Louisville's number 88 car outlasted the competition Sept. 25 in the third annual Midnight Mayhem mini-Baja endurance race.

The car won by completing the most laps.

The event is put on by the student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Teams competed from 8 p.m. to midnight on a lighted dirt track at Podium1 Motoplex, in Charlestown, Ind.

Scott Cambron, Midnight Mayhem race coordinator, describes the evening:

On Saturday, Sept. 25, most of the registered Baja SAE teams were enjoying the outstanding weather while watching the motocross bikes run on Podium1's track during their race festivities for most of the morning and afternoon.

Louisville SAE, the host team, didn't have that luxury this year. Earlier in the week during some test hours preparing for the Mayhem race the car's hydraulic brake systems failed, potentially putting the car out of the running for even making it into the race lineup. The UL-SAE teams (Formula and Baja) pulled together as a unit and worked throughout the week and that long day to finally pass their brake test and complete the safety inspection — with only about an hour to spare before the start of the race!

This year's race lineup was expanded to 35 cars from 21 outstanding engineering schools from the region, including Tennessee Tech, Auburn University, Case Western, Purdue University, University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, Miami of Ohio and The Ohio State to name a few.

All of these schools have been consistently Top 10 finishers of at least one of the Baja SAE competitions for the past several years. Needless to say the competition was demanding.

The land-rush start went off without any hitches, with the help of Roger Bradshaw, the interim chair of the mechanical engineering department dropping the gate lever. All 35 cars hit the track with a full head of steam. The track was dry and extremely fast this year, allowing the cars and drivers to be tested to their limits.

Within the first hour of the four-hour endurance race, about one-third of the field had been knocked out of the race either by vehicle failure or inexperienced drivers pushing the vehicles too hard.

Louisville SAE car number 88 was still moving, keeping a steady pace, staying on the top lap and avoiding troublesome cars that might cause any unwanted accident or collision.

As the race progressed, more and more cars began falling out due to failure, while Louisville SAE maintained that pace and stayed alive.

At midnight, with the checkered flag waving, Louisville's car number 88, "The Trooper," crossed the finish line with a total of 61 laps — three laps more than the second-place Case Western and six more than third-place Tennessee Tech.

Only eight cars still were racing at the end of the demanding endurance test.

Out of the three Midnight Mayhem races that UofL has hosted, this one, in my opinion, was by far the most exciting, the fastest, the driest and most carnage-filled race yet.

We had about 100 spectators, 350 collegiate team members representing 21 schools and 50 or so volunteers making sure all the cars were safe for and during the event. The numbers keep growing and growing! I can't wait until next year!

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