By John Ostapowicz
Baja Racing is a collegiate off-road vehicle competition hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The events are held in three different locations throughout the United States, of which one Youngstown State University organization partakes.
Youngstown State’s Baja Racing Team is split into three different divisions, consisting of a frame and ergonomics division which focuses on the tubular structure of the car. The powertrain division handles the engine work all the way to the wheels. The final division, the suspension division, handles steering, brakes and the overall mobility of the car.
From there, the work is divided between the three divisions to make sure that everyone stays organized. The team consists of 11 seniors as well as nine underclassmen who help out, but will move up into senior design.
“We have seen in results [in] 2015, the more people that are involved they can continue on what the previous team has done and can learn from their mistakes,” Bryarly said.
The entirety of the car is custom built in-house and almost everything is designed by the team, but parts required to build the car are donated by the team’s sponsors.
The Baja Racing Team competes in a series of events consisting of dynamic and static events which challenge both the team and the car itself. The dynamic events include hill climb, tractor pull, a suspension race, a maneuverability race and an endurance race. The static events include design persentation, sales presentation and a cost report.
The two current team captains, senior Jared Bryarly and senior Katie Chludzinsk, are both mechanical engineering majors.
Bryarly joined the Baja Racing Team in 2019, his freshman year. His interest in the club was sparked when he saw the Baja Racing Team at a student organization fair.
Bryarly uses his background knowledge of sheet metal work and fabrication to help design and build the cars which directly correlates what the team is about.
“I was able to jump in and get to work on some of the manufacturing side of the team and slowly became more and more involved on the team,” Bryarly said.
Chludzinsk joined shortly after Bryaryly in 2019. She started working in a fabrication shop during high school. Where her boss was the captain of the team at the time.
“He talked me into it before I even went to college and knew that going into school that Baja Racing was something I wanted to do,” Chludzinski said.
Before the Baja Racing Team took off, it was just a club. Over the years, the team has worked and competed in numerous competitions in order to earn one of the top spots internationally.
The first competition Bryarly competed in, the team placed 78 out of 80. Shortly after Chludzinski joined the team, she worked with Bryaryl to get the team where it is today.
As of 2022, the team competed in the third and final race of the season in Green Valley, Arizona at the Caterpillar Peoria Proving Grounds, Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.
The four-day international competition consisted of teams from across the United States, Mexico and Canada. Day One of competition started off with the team check-in as well as an engine check and business finals.
Day Two kicked off with a design presentation and technical inspection. Day Three consisted of dynamic events which put the team’s car to the test. Day Four of the competition ended with the four-hour long endurance test.
With the completion of the events, the Baja Racing Team finally broke into the top ten finishing ninth overall internationally, making it the best placement of the team to date.
The team placed in the following categories: first in business presentation, second in sled pull, fourth in static events-including the design presentation and sixth in all dynamic events.
With the top ten finish, the Baja Racing Team looks to continue its placements to eventually slip into the top five with competitions scheduled for next semester.