Hustling to Build a Race Car for the Future

Engineering students will compete against teams from around the world from June 17 to 20 in Nebraska

Members of the SAE (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) club stand in the machine shop.

Members of the SAE (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) club.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — Despite spending the past year designing and building a Formula-style race car for a competition later this month, a team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students don’t believe they have a chance to win.

Unlike teams from other universities, they don’t have partnerships with automakers such as Honda or Ferrari. They don’t have annual sponsors lined up that provide nearly $100,000 up front. And they don’t have a rich history from past student teams to build upon.

Instead, they started with a motor they pulled out of a motorcycle they bought for $400 off Craigslist. By searching online, they found a person in Thailand who was willing to donate Lenso brand wheels. And smaller details, such as the upholstery work for the headrest, are being handled at a shop in Rialto owned by an uncle of a team member.

“Our goal is to establish a team that will carry on,” said Charles “Blane” Brinkley, president of the SAE (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) club at UC Riverside. “We’re creating a car that is very modular so that future teams will have a great place to start from.”

The team will compete against 80 others from around the world at the Formula SAE Lincoln competition from June 17 to 20 in Lincoln, Neb.

Brayan Campana, left, and Charles “Blane” Brinkley, stand in the machine shop.

Brayan Campana, left, and Charles “Blane” Brinkley, stand in the Bourns College of Engineering machine shop.

The premise of the competition is that the student teams are told to assume that a manufacturing firm has asked them to produce a prototype car for evaluation as a production item for nonprofessional weekend competitors. The car must perform well in terms of acceleration, braking and handling and also be low cost, easy to maintain and reliable. In addition, the car’s marketability is enhanced by factors such as aesthetics, comfort and use of common parts.

During the three day competition, the cars are judged in a series of static and dynamic events including: technical inspection, cost, presentation, and engineering design, solo performance trials and high performance track endurance.

The will be the first time since 2009 that a team from UC Riverside has competed in the competition. In more recent years, the UC Riverside SAE club has been active, but did not reach the point where they satisfied the requirements to complete the competition.

Brinkley and another student, Hassan Bakar, set out to change that. In many ways they were the ideal pair.

Brayan Campana taking measurements for the headrest in the car.

Brayan Campana taking measurements for the headrest in the car.

Brinkley, who transferred to UC Riverside from Shoreline Community College near Seattle, previously worked at a machine shop and restores classic cars in his spare time. Bakar, who transferred to UC Riverside from San Bernardino Valley College, previously worked as a mechanic, smog inspector and at an automobile recycling plant.

They started work on the project during the summer of 2014 by acquiring the $400 motorcycle.

Since then, they and other team members have been designing and building the car from scratch. With Brinkley and Bakar both graduating soon, they have been grooming younger teammates to carry on the club. This is a big reason why they have kept the design of the car simple and invested in parts and tools that will be useful in the future.

The team has been helped by more than 35 businesses and organizations that have provided money, supplies or equipment with a value of about $50,000. They have also taken parts from the car designed by the team in 2009. Through it all they have been greatly aided by workspace and tools in the machine shop at the Bourns College of Engineering.

Work weeks for Brinkley and Bakar have often stretched to 70 hours. Since last summer, Brinkley has only been home in Seattle for three days. In addition, about 15 team members sacrificed their winter and spring break to work on the car at the engineering college’s machine shop.

In addition to Brinkley and Bakar, other key team members include Allan Avila, Jesus Rivera, Kyle Kinne, Cameron Lindsey, Brayan Campana, Prashant Ghaiy, Charles McCleod, Benjamin Schilinger, Joshua Rightnar, Peter Rosenbaum, Isabel Davila, Bubbi Basnet, Jose Lopez and Maxmillian Chavez.

The students wish to thank the following individuals, organizations and sponsors:

Dennis Fitz; Guillermo Aguilar; Jun Wang; Louis Sandoval; Linda Parker; Erin Murphy; Matt McCormick; Steven Rightnar; the Eastman Family; Dynojet; Skanect; SOLIDWORKS; the Bourns College of Engineering; UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology; Blackstone Labs; RIAM; K&N Engineering; Industrial Metal Supply; Lockheed Martin; Jonny Lightning; Textile Products; the Joseph Beggs Foundation; Wilwood Engineering;

And, Sterling Car Cave; Performance Product Machining; Lenso; Aeromarine Products; Airtech International; VP Racing Fuels; L.S. Starrett Company;; Calspan; California Tool & Welding Supply; Promet; Hoosier Racing Tire; NGK Spark Plugs ; Eibach Springs; Royal Purple; Optimum G; IPG Automotive; Duna-USA Inc.; Fowler High Precision; Lanic Aerospace; Mechanix Wear and Steve’s Auto Upholstery.

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