Gallery: Student Motorsport Teams hit the Track

Formula SAE-A students test their skills at Winton. Photos: Rhiannon Veness

Student-run motorsport teams have taken to Winton Motor Raceway to test their purpose-built open-wheeled race cars and engineering knowledge and business acumen.

The first Formula SAE-A event at the local circuit has been dubbed a success by both Formula SAE-A and Winton management.

The annual Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia (SAE-A) Formula SAE-A competition over four days from 6 to 9 December featuring thirty-two Australian and international student-run motorsport teams.

Benalla Auto Club CEO Chris Lewis-Williams says the feedback so far had been positive and hopes to make make Winton the competition’s long-term home as a way to help the next generation step into a motorsport career.

“It could be an event like SAE allows us to go to the government and say ‘we’re now hosting this, what would really cement our reputation with this event is if we did these things – can we work together? Whether that’s some better facilities in the campground, powered sites, a camp kitchen, a big area with a fire pit where the students can all get together.’

Those will be the conversations going forward; what do we need to put in to make it an even better venue?,” Lewis-Williams said.


Those will be the conversations going forward; what do we need to put in to make it an even better venue?,” Lewis-Williams said.

SAE-A CEO Adrian Feeney, was equally as optimistic about a long-term partnership with Winton, crediting the track’s staff and environment with making the location one that they will be proud to invite teams, sponsors and spectators to going forward.

“We see it as our new home; obviously there are a lot of learnings to be done here, we knew there would be challenges moving the event two and half hours up the highway (from Melbourne), but we always knew it would be possible,” Feeney said.

After Saturday’s on track action wrapped up, the focus shifted to an industry networking night, providing regional businesses and students with the opportunity to meet and discuss job prospects. Representatives from regional businesses including Wilson Transformer Company, Fitweld Engineering, Quantech Design, and Ross Precision Parts and international businesses with a local presence were on hand to network with over 100 students actively looking for internships and graduate jobs.

Students and regional businesses are not the only ones who can benefit from a long-term partnership between SAE and Winton. A post-event debrief will likely open conversations around how the facilities at Winton can be improved, with an event like Formula SAE providing the opportunity to approach the government for support.

Mr Feeney also touched on the potential to expand the reach of the annual event into the North East and look at ways to benefit the wider community.

“We had the mayor of Benalla on Thursday night keynote speak, we had the mayor of Wangaratta on Saturday night keynote speak, and they’re committed to having us back again. There are a lot of things we can do, not just the event itself, but the event can kick off a lot of little projects which I think you’ll find will benefit quite a lot,” Feeney said.

The competition is a mixture of theoretical and practical events, testing not only the cars’ on-track performance and reliability but also the students’ understanding of the underlying engineering and businesses principles. The theoretical, or static events, took place on Friday with the practical dynamic events running on Saturday and Sunday.

The event’s early December date means that teams usually only have dry race conditions to contend with when developing their race-day strategies. However, morning and mid-afternoon storms on Sunday provided an extra element of complexity, requiring students to make a call on whether to run dry or wet weather tyres and change car setups where possible.

The morning rain also meant that the teams further down the running order for Sunday afternoon’s 22km endurance event enjoyed more favourable driving conditions as the track began to dry.

Full event results and video highlights can be found on the SAE Australasia website.