The University of Victoria Formula Motorsport team, seen here with their race, received an assist from Saanich Police have officers recovered several parts stolen last month. UVic shipped the items to the team competing at the Formula SAE event at Michigan International Speedway. (Black Press File).

UVic racing team drives past adversity

Team recovered to compete in major racing competition despite losing key parts to theft

A local racing team might have missed the checkered flag, but still lapped the odds by competing in a prestigious event that tested more than their engineering skills.

Preliminary results show the University of Victoria (UVic) Formula Motorsport Team finished 57th out of 120 teams competing in  Formula SAE event at Michigan International Speedway that ran from May 8 to May 11.

The Society of Automotive Engineers staged the race which serves as a competition for engineering students to develop and construct a single-seat race-car for the non-professional weekend autocross racer with the best overall package of design, construction, performance and cost.

RELATED: UVic racing team back on track after Saanich Police recovers stolen items

Stephanie Willerth, associate professor of mechanical engineering at UVic and the team’s supervisor, said the car ended up blowing a coolant line two laps before the finish of the final race, an outcome she called “very sad.”

But the team also scored its best ever results in one of the competition categories, and its presence alone marked no small victory. Days before departing for Michigan, students discovered that somebody had stolen vehicle parts. Worth about $3,000 dollars, the parts represented thousands of hours of work. In fact, it had taken team members years to design some of them.

RELATED: Theft of custom parts creates setback for UVic motorsport team

But the team did not give up. A last-minute appeal to alumni raised funds to get the team off the starting blocks, and Saanich police served as an extended pit crew by recovering the items on May 8, which allowed UVic to ship them to Michigan.

In other words, the team gained real-life lessons in resiliency and overcoming adversity, a fact not lost on Willerth.

“[The] fact the team was able to compete in the dynamic events is really amazing,” she said.

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com


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