Gator Motorsports Finishes Third at Michigan F1 Style Car Build Event

Gator Motorsports, the University of Florida Formula SAE team, took the podium for the first time in seven years at the annual SAE formula Michigan, May 18-21 in Brooklyn, Michigan.

Gator Motorsports competed against more than 90 teams and placed third overall in the international competition where students design, build, assemble, test and race a small Formula 1-style race car. Villanova University came second behind the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign winner.

The competition consisted of an Engineering Design Showcase, where each team defended their design strategies against industry professionals, as well as four different race types: acceleration, skid/figure 8, autocross and endurance.

Gator Motorsports placed first in acceleration, third in design and third in autocross.

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Gator Motorsports placed third in the annual SAE Michigan Formula, held May 18-21 in Brooklyn, Michigan.

Since finishing second overall in 2015, Gator Motorsports had struggled to complete the endurance portion of the competition. The team has redesigned its vehicle over the past two years, changing from 13-inch wheels to 10-inch wheels in 2020, and changing from a steel tube frame to a carbon fiber monocoque frame in 2021 .

“These changes required a complete overhaul of every system in the car, while battling the challenges of COVID,” team president Mitchell Thoeni wrote in an email. “This year we focused on fixing the issues after such drastic changes and on how the car’s new design behaves.”

Thoeni said this year’s vehicle is the team’s last to be powered by an internal combustion engine. Next season the team is switching to an electric car.

Joseph K. Bennett