LTU bringing back its Grand Prix Nov. 6 for student-designed race cars

SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University’s Blue Devil Motorsports teams are bringing back their annual autumn Grand Prix of time trials for student-designed Formula-style race cars. Last held in October 2019, the event went on hiatus for 2020 due to the pandemic.

The LTU Formula SAE car revs up for a run around the course as spectators look on at the 2019 LTU Grand Prix. (LTU photo / Shauna Wollmershauser)

Established in 2009, LTU’s 12th Grand Prix will be held Saturday, Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the LTU parking lots along Northwestern Highway in Southfield (Parking Lot D at The winner will receive a trophy for the fastest time trial.

The event is free and open to the public, with food trucks scheduled to be on site to provide lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sponsors of the event include Ingersoll-Rand and Absopure.

Along with Lawrence Tech, teams from Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kettering University, Oakland University, the University of Toledo, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University are scheduled to attend.

LTU has a long history in Formula SAE, a student design and racing competition organized by SAE International (previously known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) and first held in 1979. The event is held in the spring at several sites around the country; LTU hosted the national event three times in the 1980s. Today, the finals for most Midwestern teams are held at Michigan International Speedway in June, after the academic year ends.

In Formula SAE, students conceive, design, fabricate, and compete in half-scale open-wheel race cars. There are restrictions on the car frame and engine so that the knowledge, creativity and imagination of the students are challenged. The cars are built with a team effort over a period of about nine months; in all, about 140 colleges and universities around the world participate. Judging criteria include engineering design; cost; performance on a skid pad; a braking test; an endurance test; and a team presentation. The end result is a great experience for young engineers to work on a meaningful project as a dedicated team.

SAE also sponsors other competitions—Baja SAE, the original SAE competition, which began with off-road vehicles in 1976; Formula Electric, teams that design and build all-electric racing cars; SAE Supermileage, in which students design an ultralight one-cylinder car for maximum MPG; and SAE Aero Design, in which students design and build an unmanned cargo aircraft weighing no more than 55 pounds.

LTU’s Formula SAE team has 14 student members, all seniors, plus several alumni volunteers. The team’s faculty advisor is Rozie Zanganeh, assistant professor in LTU’s A. Leon Linton Department of Mechanical, Robotics and Industrial Engineering.

Formula SAE teams from universities across the Great Lakes region line up for a group photo at the conclusion of the 2019 LTU Grand Prix. (LTU photo / Matt Roush)

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 100 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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