News / London

Western University racers: We’re Mustangs, too

The Western Mustangs are known as football, basketball, and hockey teams. But for 25 years, Western has had a formula racing team of engineering students who design, build, and race a new car each year.

“We are not a club,” said Adam Bezzina, a fourth-year engineering student at Western, and technical director and project leader of this year’s car.

“But we have never seemed to receive the same treatment from students as other Mustang teams. We have Western printed all over our car when we race, but I would categorize us as an engineering mega-project.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Western University Formula Racing team. According to Bezzina, Western engineering students built the first car in 1988. Since 1996, Western has been racing competitively against international competition.

“This year’s team is comprised of more than 30 people. We race in about three competitions each year,” said Bezzina. “Our biggest is at the Michigan International Speedway, where more than 120 schools from North America and Europe meet to race.”

Team members take turns at the wheel, and they are often only required to have a G-1 beginner’s driver’s licence to compete.

“Some races don’t even require the drivers to have licences,” said Steve Combe, the car’s ergonomics design manager.

The team works out of a shop provided by the engineering faculty at Western, and practices on weekends in the empty Springett parking lot on campus.

According to Bezzina, most students only know of the team because of the noise the car’s engine makes.

“On weekends, we tend to wake up and upset a lot of students in residence,” Bezzina said. “We haven’t gotten the best reception.”

But with more and more universities in Canada now building their own formula racing cars, races are beginning to take place closer to home, where the team hopes to show its skills.

“Our last race was held by the University of Toronto for Canadian schools to come race their cars,” said Bezzina. “This was the last race for our car before retiring it. Now we start a new one. We would love to race it in front of Western students at a local race someday.”

After giving the car one last test drive in Springett on Saturday, the team began design and production on this year’s car to be completed next spring.

Vroom vroom

  • The car accelerates 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds
  • The car has a top speed of about 140km/h
  • The car is equipped with a roll cage, and the driver wears harnesses, a helmet, and a fire-resistant suit

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