The University of Akron Zips Racing Team unveiled the race car it built for international competitions later this year in a ballroom ceremony Monday at the UA Student Center.
“On behalf of the 25 students that it took to make this car possible, with 20,000 man hours invested over the past nine months, I’d like to present to you the ZR12,” team captain Dan Lough said as team leaders removed the black covering to reveal a sleek open-wheel race car about a fourth of the size of an Indy 500 car.
The ZR12 (Zips Racing 2012) is painted blue on top with a white stripe and black below the stripe.
“It will do zero to 60 in about three-and-a-half seconds and reach a top speed of 120 ... theoretically,” Lough said.
When the team begins the race season next month in Michigan, student drivers won’t be allowed to drive faster than about 55 mph, said faculty adviser Richard Gross.
“They do not want students – some who are very good drivers, some who are not – doing anything foolish, so they try and keep the speeds under control,” Gross said.
Since 1990, the University of Akron has competed annually in the Society of Automotive Engineering’s Formula SAE design competition. Students design and build a race car, which they enter in competitions that test acceleration, cornering ability and, finally, the ability to run 22 kilometers (just over 10 miles) without needing any adjustment. About halfway through the endurance race, the teams switch drivers and the cars are inspected for safety.
“If they find a bolt starting to come loose, you are done for the day,” Gross said. “If they find a little drop of oil on the ground or something, you’re done. It’s extremely strict.”
After the competition in Michigan, the team will race the car in Germany and Austria in August and in Canada in October. Local fans can watch the team race in Akron at the Goodyear Testing Grounds on Sept. 22.
The students make 90 percent of the car’s parts, improving on the previous year’s car.
Team leaders were Ryan Kruse, suspension; Maddy Mann, composites; John Buchanan, drivetrain; Michan Limbacher, chassis; Ben DiMarco, brakes and Dominick DeMasi Jr., engine.
The car runs on a 4- cylinder, 600cc Yamaha R6 motorcycle engine with sequential fuel injection. DeMasi, a fifth-year senior majoring in mechanical engineering, needed a better way to get data and use to it make a powerful car.
DeMasi took advantage of a paid internship with MoTeC, an Australian-based firm that creates computer systems to control and collect data about engine performance, to improve the Zips Racing Team’s testing and data analysis procedures.
DeMasi worked last summer at MoTeC’s facility in North Carolina, or as he puts it, “NASCAR country.”
“I learned so much more from being there that I figured out new ways to implement their products in ways that would help us,” DeMasi said. “Down there, I was working with a lot of professional racing teams, helping them solve their problems, and I started realizing ways to solve my own.”
Meanwhile, DiMarco worked on making the brakes lighter and the cockpit more comfortable for the driver. Last year’s car weighed 446 pounds and the team wanted to shave that down to 430. He helped them get it down to 425 pounds.
DiMarco and DeMasi already have jobs lined up after they graduate this year with Honda R & D Americas near Marysville.
“We’re going to live together,” DiMarco said. “He’s doing engines and I’m doing brakes. That’s what we did here. It really carries over.”
John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or email@example.com.