The world of motorsports is evolving as clean technologies like hybrid motors provide a new platform for performance. This is true from the highest levels of Formula One racing all the way down to college engineering competitions. The annual SAE Formula Hybrid competition challenges teams of college engineering students to build fast and efficient hybrid racers. The winning racer, built by students from BYU, can go from 0-60 MPH in just 3 seconds.
The car, called Hybrid Blue, has been the brainchild of BYU’s students and teachers for four years, and has competed since 2009. Last year Hybrid Blue came in second place, causing the team to make some major changes that included shortening the vehicle by 14 inches. This also dropped about 80 lbs. off of the 450 lb. vehicle, which had a drastic effect on acceleration and handling.
As a result, BYU’s Hybrid Blue can go from 0-60 mph in just 3 seconds, and it dominated the SAE Formula Hybrid’s acceleration, endurance, and autocross competitions. In fact, after the 14-mile/22-kilometer endurance run, BYU’s little hybrid racer still had a 75% charge left. Running on E85 ethanol and a hybrid-electric system, what you’re seeing is essentially the future of motorsports, just on a collegiate level.
Granted, the Hybrid Blue is a glorified go-kart, but these students will be entering an evoling world where new technology is pushing performance cars even farther. Formula One has already embraced hybrid motors for pit stops, and the American Le Mans Series has welcome hybrids into its midst as well. From rally racing to land speed record semi-trucks, hybrid technology has infiltrated most every form of motorsports.
As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”