CSULB's Baja car on display at Grand Prix of LB

Published April 5, 2017

The metal panels were not yet in place and there was still some tinkering to be done, but the Baja racing car was all-but ready for this weekend’s judging at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The fully functional desert racer prototype is the handiwork of Cal State Long Beach’s Society of Automotive Engineers, a group of six students who took an already made prototype and enhanced from its steel rod frame to the rugged wheels and all parts in between. The students spent their free moments getting the car finished in time for the collegiate competition that will take place in the exhibition hall of the Long Beach Convention Center.

Justin Jimenez, president of the CSULB SAE, said judges will be evaluating the car on its design, cost, labor, materials and components. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules.

Other schools expected to participate this weekend include Cal State Fullerton, UCLA and UC Irvine.

“We took last year’s car and made some improvements, such as increasing the tube diameter,” said Jimenez, a mechanical engineer major.

The Baja cars will not hit the pavement during the Grand Prix, but Jimenez said they have raced their car in Barstow with fairly good results.

Like the other students, Jimenez got interested in cars early on, working alongside his father on a 1948 Ford F1 truck. “He taught me about the different parts and how they work,” he said.

Kevyn Esparza, too, began helping his dad with his automotive maintenance, fueling a deep love of motors and suspension rods. He hopes to get into 3-D printing of automotive parts after graduation.

The other students who worked on the car are Sergio Lopez, Maribel Ponce, Quinn Bogenreif and Bryan Pineda. Working together, the students got hands-on experience learning design, analysis, manufacturing, testing and racing, while managing cost and creating an effective business plan.

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