As car No. 34 crossed the finish line at the Michigan International Speedway, University of Central Florida history was made.

The black and gold formula race car built by the students in the UCF chapter of the Society for Automotive Engineers placed first among all Florida teams and #12 in the nation at the 2019 Formula SAE international competition. Overall, the Knights placed #21 out of 120 teams — the highest ranking in the team’s history.

“The team is thrilled to have placed the best in UCF history,” said Chaz Spirazza, an aerospace engineering major who serves as the Formula SAE powertrain and team lead. “Our success did not happen overnight though; knowledge from the past two to three years has really built up to get us to the point where we are now.”

UCF’s Formula SAE team designed and built the car from scratch, as they do every year for the competition. The four-day formula race includes both static and dynamic events that test the teams on how they built the car as well as how well it races.

“In static events we are judged on the engineering side of things where we must present each subsystem of our car, showing all of our calculations, design processes, build quality, testing and validation,” Spirazza said. “We also have a cost event, a business event, and the car must pass rigorous tech inspections to ensure the vehicle is safe and follows the rules of the competition.”

For the dynamic events, the teams race in different events on different tracks that test the cars on performance indicators such as fuel efficiency, acceleration and endurance. The scores from each event are totaled for the overall score.

UCF beat all of the in-state competition including the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, the University of North Florida and the Florida Institute of Technology. At the national level, the Knights beat out universities such as Purdue, Duke, Columbia and Penn State.

But no accolade is more satisfying for the team than creating another milestone in UCF’s history.

“Hundreds of all-nighters, thousands of hours of design, countless fundraising events, and the relentless drive of our members to perform better, learn more, and work as a team is what got us here,” Spirazza said. “The feeling of setting a school record after all this work is incredibly satisfying and rewarding.”

Story by Marisa Ramiccio ’11, UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering