Sunrise, FL -- Without the generosity of time and funding that SpeedSource has given us, the University of Florida Formula SAE team would still be baffled as to why our independently sprung formula car was lifting tires off the ground. In...
Sunrise, FL -- Without the generosity of time and funding that SpeedSource has given us, the University of Florida Formula SAE team would still be baffled as to why our independently sprung formula car was lifting tires off the ground. In previous years, our FSAE team has used mountain bike dampers in order to save money. Thanks to SpeedSource and their shock dyno, I was able to confirm our hypothesis that bicycle dampers are not suitable for any type of racing application, even a 450-pound formula car with a generous motion ratio.
Being an undergraduate engineering program with a $40,000 annual budget, we clearly don't have much money for any portion of the car that is not an absolute necessity, especially four to five thousand dollars on a set of dampers without any technical support. Knowing the reputation for quality that the Dynamic Suspension name carries and the fact that we could actually tune our dampers on SpeedSource's hydraulic shock dyno, the other suspension designers and I were pleading with the SAE treasurer to authorize just such a purchase no matter what the cost. Surely, we still thought the cost of such dampers would place them well out of our budget. Needless to say that when Sylvain Tremblay told us he could sell us the dampers at nearly half of the cost of a comparable shock, we were ecstatic.
With the technical support of David Haskell, the transition to a precision, rebuildable two-way adjustable damper could not have been easier. This is not to say that we just ordered some shocks and threw them on in one weekend. Initially, Dynamic Suspensions shipped components that were larger than our requirements. However, Sylvain remained committed to our requested specifications and sent our shock bodies to be independently machined. When the bodies finally came in, Dave was there step-by-step to ensure that I assembled all of them correctly. When completely assembled, I was able to dyno each shock at multiple settings, in order to ensure graphs suitable to our spring rates and more importantly, parity between all four dampers. Ultimately, SpeedSource provided us with dampers that not only met our specified dimensions, but also provided the consistent damping that our car had always been missing.
After donating several weekends of their time to a project that they had expected to take just a few days, SpeedSource has also begun helping our engine management program. Just recently, on the weekend of May 24th and 25th, I brought our car down to SpeedSource with the intention of having Sylvain and Dave drive it in appreciation of all that they had done for us since January. However, the weekend turned into a Motec lesson for me, while Dave worked on tuning our fuel maps and the rest of the infinite parameters that the Motec controls. At the end of the day, I was still the only one there that had ever driven our car, and SpeedSource had generously donated a whole day of dyno time to the University of Florida FSAE team.
Through their monetary contributions alone, SpeedSource has become one of the primary supporters of our team. Obviously, the financial assistance that SpeedSource has been able to provide has been extremely valuable to us. However, it was their technical support and general knowledge from years of experience that has proven to be truly invaluable. Sylvain Tremblay, David Haskell, and all of SpeedSource have chosen to aide in the education of future engineers, and the University of Florida FSAE team is a greatly appreciative recipient of their support.
-By Nicholas Michalski (03' suspension team leader and 04' apprentice team captain)