Formula SAE Competition at MIS Brings Business to Area


About 2,000 students representing more than 100 teams from around the world will compete in one of the most prestigious of the SAE Collegiate Design Series events this week at Michigan International Speedway.

Formula SAE is an educational competition that challenges university undergraduate and graduate engineering students to design, build and compete in scaled-down, Formula-style autocross race cars. Only three similar competitions of this magnitude are held by Formula SAE in the United States — in California, Virginia and Michigan.

The event is the first of its kind at Michigan International Speedway. The racetrack’s 100-acre infield is the perfect venue for the series as it provides ample space for the teams.

“This event further demonstrates the impact Michigan International Speedway has on the community and on the state – and not just on our race weekends,” speedway President Roger Curtis said. “Teams from around the world are competing in this extremely popular event making MIS a truly international venue. That equates to visitors coming to the state and experiencing all the great things this state and the Irish Hills has to offer.”

MIS has made it a priority to look for additional events at the speedway. Curtis hired Michael Printup as senior director of facility development to seek new use opportunities for the speedway.

Teams from Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Mexico, Venezuela, South Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, Singapore, India, Finland, Austria, Brazil, Canada and the United States are registered for the event. Local schools from Michigan are also competing, including Michigan Tech, Michigan State and the University of Michigan.

The international entry list spells additional business opportunities for Southeastern Michigan hotels, campgrounds and restaurants, to name a few. Several local hotels are booked as a result of the competition. About 60 rooms at the Motel 6 in Jackson, Mich., for example, have been booked by teams, volunteers and SAE employees participating in and organizing the event.

The most noticeable increase for one local hotel, the Super 8 in Brooklyn, Mich., just a few miles from the racetrack, has experienced an increase in weekday stays. The SAE event began Monday, May 12 with setup and load-in. Super 8 manager Scott Spence said the motel sees pretty good business during the weekend, but rooms that might have gone unoccupied Monday through Friday of the event are now sold.

“We’ve had 90 percent occupancy all week with many of the teams showing up Monday,” he said. “Those rooms likely would have been empty if not for the event at MIS.”

The Formula SAE competition is for SAE student members to conceive, design, fabricate, and compete with small formula-style racing cars. The restrictions on the car frame and engine are limited so the knowledge, creativity and imagination of the students are challenged. The cars are built with a team effort over a period of about a year and are taken to the annual competition for judging and comparison with approximately 120 other vehicles from colleges and universities throughout the world. The result is a great experience for young engineers in a meaningful engineering project as well as the opportunity of working in a dedicated team effort.

Spectators are welcomed to attend. Admission is free. For additional information, visit the Formula SAE website at

Michigan International Speedway is preparing for its 40th season of racing in 2008. Tickets for all the races are on sale now. The ARCA RE/MAX Series on June 13, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Cool City Customs 200 on June 14 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LifeLock 400 on June 15 kick off the season. The NASCAR Nationwide Series CARFAX 250 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo conclude on

August 16 and 17. Tickets, camping and pit passes are available for all events, including qualifying days. Parking is always free at Michigan International Speedway.

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