MRacing smokes competition with their first electric race car
Do you want to go fast?
“Do you want to go fast?”
The car may be new, but this question MRacing poses to new recruits remains as relevant as ever. Their first fully-electric race car goes from 0 to 60 in less than three seconds, and with it, the team defended their First-Place title in the United States at Formula SAE Michigan for the fourth consecutive year while placing Second overall. Their previous first-place titles were won with their combustion engine cars.
“We’ve got working as a team locked down, especially with bringing people together from various different backgrounds and different specializations on the car,” said Computer Engineering undergrad Nathan Gould, who served as the team’s Interface and Telemetry lead last year. “You never know what will go right and what will go wrong, but our people really know how to fix different issues on the fly.”
This adaptability has been a particular strength for the recent evolution of MRacing. This past year, they merged with Michigan Electric Racing (MER), for they had long been collaborators sharing resources and knowledge. MER started as Michigan Hybrid Racing (MHR) in 2012. In 2018, the team underwent a transition to fully electric vehicles and constructed two electric formula cars in 2019 and 2021. Last year, MER won the Electric Vehicle Class at Formula SAE Michigan and took Second Place at Formula SAE North. By merging, MRacing and MER hope to compete as one team in Formula SAE Electric.
“A lot of the competitive teams we want to race in Europe have moved to electric, and the auto-industry over here is going electric as well,” Gould said. “We wanted to get ahead of the curve and prepare our engineers for real jobs and experience in the automotive industry.”
We wanted to get ahead of the curve and prepare our engineers for real jobs and experience in the automotive industry.
Nathan Gould, CE undergrad and MRacing’s Interface and Telemetry lead
Despite the merger and the goal, much of the team experience remains the same. The team still designs and manufactures a whole car from scratch each year, and the requirements and process remain the same.
“The big main difference between the MRacing car and the Michigan Electric Racing car was the power train,” Gould said. “We went from an internal combustion engine to using electric motors and a high voltage battery pack.”
The new car also features MRacing’s first full carbon fiber monocoque and accumulator container. They implemented a decoupled roll-heave suspension architecture and developed custom motor controllers.
This year, Gould is the team’s Autonomous Development lead and Low Voltage lead. He continues to serve as one of the drivers during competition.
“I’ve always been interested in racing, and I watched a lot of NASCAR with my dad growing up,” Gould said. “I was pretty good at Go-Karting too, where I learned some of the basics of racing. When I joined the team, there were two open spots for drivers, and I auditioned and won one of the spots.”
Some of Gould’s experience as a driver helped shape the design of certain elements, such as the internal display.
“You have to think about what the driver can actually see when on the course and how they get into the car, which can affect the placement of some of the sensors and boxes,” Gould said. “Size restraints determine most of the design, but the driver’s experience does affect some aspects.”
In addition to a new kind of car, this was the first competition for almost all current members of MRacing that did not include COVID restrictions.
“The whole team was able to go to Michigan Speedway this year, which was really cool,” Gould said. “During COVID, teams could only bring a few members. You still got to talk to each other and check out the other cars, but there were so many more people this time, and that was really fun.”
For the second time since 2015, MRacing made it to the Design Finals competition, where they took Third place (they made it to the finals in 2021, but the competition was virtual). They were dominant in other events, placing First in Skidpad, Second in Endurance, and Third in Autocross. They also placed Second at the Pittsburgh Shootout this year.
MRacing has begun work on their next car, and they aim to compete against the top formula electric teams in the world in North America and Europe next summer.