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What is Formula SAE?

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2021 Formula SAE Rules

WSU Formula SAE Bylaws

Formula SAE is a worldwide engineering competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers(SAE). Over 140 universities compete with an open-wheel style racecar including other countries such as Japan, Germany, and Brazil in competitions held in Michigan and Nebraska and other locations. Formula SAE greatly assists in preparing students for real world experiences, problem solving, management, and communication.

The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a student design team to develop a small Formula-style race car. The prototype race car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item. The target marketing group for the race car is the non-professional weekend autocross racer. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules, whose purpose is both ensuring on-track safety (the cars are driven by the students themselves) and promoting clever problem solving. The prototype race car is judged in a number of different events. The points schedule for most Formula SAE events is:

Event Point Distribution:

Pie chart showing a visual representation of Event Point Distribution. The information is verbally presented in the Events Explained section below.

Events Explained:

Design Event (15%):

This event rates the quality of engineering design used in the car development of the racecar. Judges evaluate the team's innovative ideas as well as test the reasoning and theory behind the design by questioning the students. During the event, the vehicle's test data and analysis are also scrutinized.

Cost & Manufacturing Analysis Event (10%):

Teams must submit a report detailing the total prototype cost of the vehicle and capital expenditures (plants, machinery, and tools) for a limited production run by a hypothetical manufacturing firm. There is no maximum cost.

Presentation Event (7.5%):

Students deliver a quality technical sales presentation that persuades the fictional manufacturer to put the car into production. The judges are to be assumed to be executives of a corporation.

Acceleration Event (7.5%):

In four 75-meter runs, the fastest time is recorded to test the acceleration.

Skid-Pad Event (5%):

The cornering capability of the racecar is evaluated by driving the car in a figure-eight formation as fast as possible without knocking over any of the cones that outline the course.

Autocross Event (15%):

Drivers must maneuver the car through the tight turns and slaloms of a one-lap course. Any cones knocked over count as penalties. Each team is granted four attempts, of which the fastest lap time is recorded.

Fuel Economy Event (10%):

During the Endurance event, the fuel economy is calculated and compared with the other vehicles.

Endurance Event (30%):

This intense 22-kilometer closed-course race tests the limits of the car and requires a driver change in the middle. Cars are not allowed to leak any fluids, and only cars that cross the finish line can score any points.


In addition to these events, various sponsors of the competition provide awards for superior design accomplishments. For example, best use of E-85 ethanol fuel, innovative use of electronics, recyclability, crash worthiness, and analytical approach to design are some of the awards available. At the beginning of the competition, the vehicle is checked for rule compliance during the Technical Inspection. Its braking ability, rollover stability and noise levels are checked before the vehicle is allowed to compete in the dynamic events (Skidpad, Autocross, Acceleration, Endurance and Fuel Economy).

Formula SAE encompasses all aspects of a business including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management, and fund raising. Formula SAE takes students out of the class room and puts them in the real world.


Note: Some of the above information was obtained from the Formula SAE Wiki.