Baja NOW: NATIONALS, The Rundown!

 

This past week Iowa Baja was in Pittsburg, Kansas at one of the Nationals competitions! It was a crazy, fun, mess of a week with the team and I am here to give you all the details. 

Day 1: Travel

On the first day, the crew arrived at the Baja Shop in Iowa City at 8:30 am and packed up the trailer. By 9:30 we were pulling out of Iowa City and headed to Kansas. 

After a short pit stop to fuel up and add some air to the tires the team made it to Kanas in time for dinner at a local rib joint (where the special was endless ribs). 

To end the day the team climbed into the hot tub to relax before the hectic next day. 

 The team packing up our brand new trailer provided by the Mechanical Engineering Office at the University of Iowa!

The team packing up our brand new trailer provided by the Mechanical Engineering Office at the University of Iowa!


 
 

Day 2: Engine Check & Sales Presentation

Day 2 started for Kayla Denson, Mitch Evens, Spencer Van Dorn, and Sam Berry on Day 1 at 11:00 pm. The top 25 teams to go through engine check get the be first 25 to go through the full tech inspection on day 3. Mitch Evens initially went over at 10:00 pm to check the line and realized there were already quite a few teams pulled up. By the time the other members got to the site with the trailer we were 23 in line. 

At 6:00 am registration opened up and the trailer made it through and to the pits at 6: 24, then in 2 minutes the car was pulled out of the trailer and being pushed to the enginer check line by 4 sprinting members of our team. We ended up 18th in line and managed to pass 4 teams by running with the car!

 Mitch Evens, Spencer Van Dorn, Ben Atzen, and Kyle Scharm running the car to the Engine Check line. 

Mitch Evens, Spencer Van Dorn, Ben Atzen, and Kyle Scharm running the car to the Engine Check line. 

After the engine check was over, Rob Pohren and Alex Dalziel got suited up for the sales presentation at 2:25 pm. After lots of practice, and a night of good sleep these two were ready to rock! After the presentation with quite a few good questions from the judges, Iowa Baja took 21st in the Sales Presentation. 

 Patriotic team picture to match The Patriot! (We are getting the bucket hats embrodiered) 

Patriotic team picture to match The Patriot! (We are getting the bucket hats embrodiered) 

 
 

After all the events of day 2, the day ended with a parade of baja cars in downtown Pittsburg. All the team drove their cars downtown for all the town to come out and see. 

 Baja on Broadway in Pittsburg, Kansas. 

Baja on Broadway in Pittsburg, Kansas. 

 

 

Day 3: Tech Inspection, Design Presentation & Cost Audit

Tech inspection started at 8:30 am on day 3, being 18th in line we didn't enter the tent until 10:15 am. This was a bit problematic as the team was scheduled for a design presentation at 10:45 am. At 10:40 we had passed the first 2/3 of tech but unfortunately had to leave to run over to the design presentation with the car. 

For our design presentation, we printed out packets for the judges so they could look back at our presentation for the scoring. 

 Rob Pohren, Mitch Evens, Kayla Denson, and Spencer Van Dorn giving the design presentation to the four judges in front of The Patriot. 

Rob Pohren, Mitch Evens, Kayla Denson, and Spencer Van Dorn giving the design presentation to the four judges in front of The Patriot. 

 
 

After the design presentation we weren't able to get back into tech inspection until 4:00 pm, but we did have a cost audit at 1:00 pm. There they went through our cost report with a fine tooth comb to determine the accuracy. 

We took 29th out of 93 teams for the cost report, and 33rd in the design presentation! 

Once we finally made it back to tech inspection at around 4:00 pm, we had no problems and for the first time in the history of Iowa baja made it thorugh on the FIRST TRY. 

 Rob Pohren applying the final tech sticker after Mitch Evens passed the final part of tech inspection (brake check). 

Rob Pohren applying the final tech sticker after Mitch Evens passed the final part of tech inspection (brake check). 

 

 

Day 4: Dynamic Events...And Lots of Rain

Thanks to us passing tech inspection on the first day we were able to start on the four dynamic events right away! This lead us to make it through the Maneuverability course and Suspension track before the storm hit. 

On the Maneuverability course we took 12th, and on suspension we took 26th! We would have made it through the suspension course quicker but one of our front tires hit an obstacle and snapped one of the rod ends. 

 Crews moving The Patriot off the suspension track after the rod end snapped. 

Crews moving The Patriot off the suspension track after the rod end snapped. 

After The Patriot was towed back to the pits, the skies opened up with a sheet of rain, hail, and strong winds. The team quickly pulled everything into the trailer and fixed the car till the rain let up. 

Once the weather passed we were able to make it back out to the dynamics course to finish up Acceleration and the Sled Pull. Unfourtanetly due to the rain these events were unsuccessful for most teams. 

We ended placing 37th in Acceleration and 39th in Sled Pull. 

 Mitch Evens driving the car for the sled pull dynamic event. 

Mitch Evens driving the car for the sled pull dynamic event. 

 

 

Day 5: Endurance Race, and The Road Home

The final day of Nationals started out with more thunderstorms and an announcement that the race might not happen. Thankfully after 2 hours, the race was shortened, but still happening! The team loaded up and headed to the pits to get the car out and ready for action, but of course, anything that can happen will happen.

Just as The Patriot was getting pushed out to the staging area, the steering shafted snapped! To make it even more problematic, we only had a MIG welder and our generator wouldn't get started! Thankfully, Nebraska Baja had a TIG, and Maryland Baja had a generator that they let us use. We got it fixed and made it out to the track just in time for stagging!

Then we were off, but again a problem occurred just 15 minutes into the race. The gearbox blew. We had anticipated this problem as our smallest gear was having issues with all the teeth getting sheared off after minimal use, time constraints didn't allow us to solve the problem. Luckily we had prepared a second gear to quickly switch out and get back on the track.  

 Driver Mitch Evens, covered in mud, back on the track after the first gear box issue. 

Driver Mitch Evens, covered in mud, back on the track after the first gear box issue. 

Finally, after another hour the second gear we prepared broke with 10 minutes left in the race. Overall we took 72th in the endurance race due to our gear problems. 

Iowa Baja this year has had so much growth due to the involvement of all members of our team and their dedication. In addition, none of this would have been possible without our amazing sponsors! Make sure to go check them out on our sponsorship page! Also if you have seen what we do and think it is as awesome as we do please consider sponsoring us, we need fund to keep shaping the future engineers of the world! 

Now I know this is long but just one more thing, in the upcoming weeks there will be a video that runs through everything the baja team has done! Stay tuned and make sure to check it out!

Thank you for your following and support, have a great summer!

 The team in front of our wonderful trailer!

The team in front of our wonderful trailer!