NCAT

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YouTube videos[edit]

Acceleration[edit]

Hill Climb[edit]

videos from 2012 competition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uQivLy0GfU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctrwXkWieu0

Land Maneuverability[edit]

videos from 2012 competition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15FdXvK51FE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy8emYtwcDc

Suspension & Traction[edit]

videos from 2012:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SigKxwYQ5Ko

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnaPq3JUjTk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl20WeMd-LA

The following information is from the 2009 competition

Big pipe[edit]

This is a 14 inch diameter concrete pipe that many teams will hung up their car on. It is placed very early in the run which will cause very low scores on DNF runs. Pick your S&T drivers in part by ability to maneuver this obstacle. You want to approach the pipe with enough speed to pop the front tires up onto it, then work the throttle to drive the rear tires up to and over it. Hit it too hard and fast and the car will pop up and lose forward momentum. Without a reverse gear, you might only get one chance to cross this obstacle successfully.

Spiral stairs[edit]

These are railroad ties arranged like steps in a church's bell tower on a sharp downhill turn. Some cars' front and/or rear tires will hang up between steps and will get stuck. Good throttle control is important to this feature.

Drop-off[edit]

This is a 2 to 3 foot drop-off followed by a very short section of track immediately before a hairpin turn. Take it too slow and you may endo the car. Take it too fast and you will overshoot the hairpin turn and lose time on that run recovering with a wide turn. Do not try to initiate the turn in the air because you will just plow the front tires when they touch ground. Watch this S&T feature for a lot of carnage and off-course disqualifications

Hairpin turn and stairs[edit]

Again, the strategy for the hairpin turn is to take the drop-off with just enough speed to clear it, but not too fast that you can't cut a quick turn. Immediately after the hairpin is an uphill with railroad tie steps cut in. If are geared to climb hills at all and have your CVT tuned to downshift correctly, you shouldn't have any problems with the stairs.

Rock Garden[edit]

There will be big gnarly rocks that you can hang up your belly pan or suspension arms on. Some teams will take this section at full speed; they may have glorious fast runs, but will probably have glorious wrecks. Every time a car hangs up or kicks a rock out, the course workers will probably put it back in a slightly different order. It is difficult to form a strategy because of how much a rock garden will change through the day.

Railroad ties[edit]

After the Rock Garden there is a sharp left hand turn, and then there are railroad ties placed on the course a little further apart than the common Baja SAE car's wheel base. Take the RR ties too slow and you will get stuck between them. If you have a good suspension tuning and ground clearance, you might not have to slow down for them at all.

Dirt uphill/downhill[edit]

The remainder of the S&T course is steep dirt uphill/downhills to the finish stop box. Take this section as fast as your driving ability allows. The dirt will be loose and loamy, and you should be able to break the rear tires out to drift corners at will. You finish on the uphill, so don't let off the throttle too early, but leave enough room to skid to a stop in the stop box.

Endurance[edit]

videos from 2012 competition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgyWpJRTxFw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlO6dfoNaHo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J31xYOvo-Ok

Start[edit]

The start is in the field immediately before the fuel pits. The field narrows to a land perhaps 2 vehicles wide. If there is a land-rush style start, this is the hole-shot.

Woods section[edit]

The initial part of the track is a narrow lane woods section. This section has some minor obstacles like rocks, logs, and small whoops.

Stream Crossings[edit]

In the woods after the start the first thing you encounter are the stream crossings. If there have been recent rainstorms, these will have water in them which causes three problems: water on the powertrain components, driver hypothermia, and muddy goggles.

  • For water on the powertrain components, be sure that your engine is shielded from mud slung from your car or others' tires, and have a very water-resistant CVT cover.
  • For hypothermia, wear warm clothing underneath your fire clothes.
  • For muddy goggles there are several strategies. In order of decreasing effectiveness they follow:
  1. Use a hand to cover your face and shield your goggles from splashing mud (you'll hear people suggest this the most on the forum)
  2. Use a squirt bottle to spray water on your goggles as you drive to clear them
  3. Use your tear-offs or roll-offs strategically, and have many replacement goggles ready to swap in the fuel pit (you don't have to get out to refuel to pit)

S&T and Land Man courses[edit]

The Land Man and S&T courses are likely in-play for the endurance race; sections of the Land Man and S&T will be added into the endurance loop. Large parts of the S&T course are pick-your-path, meaning there are many routes to take and the choice is yours. Have a first, second, and third choice of routes so you can avoid slow or stuck cars. These shortcuts may change throughout the endurance race, so be willing to explore a little or take advice from teammates over the radio who may be staged to suggest the best path.

Steep downhill (cliff)[edit]

Is this feature in-play? They may have moved the course to avoid this for safety. It is almost a cliff. You'll want to roll over the top and accelerate down it. Be careful when approaching it so you don't hit an unsuspecting car that has rolled on the bottom.

S-turns in Sand[edit]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfw4gEKc5CU&t=325

The S-turns in sand are after the drop-off and immediately before the skid row. This is a pretty long and slow section. By careful when trying to pass slow cars because of the deep ruts that will form. Perhaps it is best to wait for the Skid Row or the wide grass clearing before the Tabletop to pass cars.

Skid Row, AKA Corduroy[edit]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfw4gEKc5CU&t=355

From this footage in fall of 2014, it looks like many logs are rotten or missing. Perhaps they will replace them for the 2015 competition.

This is a section perhaps 100 feet long that is paved with logs laid side-by-side. The Skid Row WILL find and destroy any weakness in suspension member designs. Also, unstable suspension alignments will cause problems with steering as the car will be difficult to control from all the bumps and hops it will take.

Tabletop Jump[edit]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfw4gEKc5CU&t=379

The Skid Row opens up to a clearing, there's a ditch crossing, then a long straightaway on grass to build speed. This straightaway is at least 4 cars wide and is a perfect place to pass slow moving cars.

Then comes the Tabletop jump. DO NOT TAKE THIS JUMP FAST; it isn't really shaped correctly for a Baja SAE car at all. The front ramp is too steep and the landing ramp is too short. Many cars will overshoot, land nose-first like a Lawn Dart, give the driver a minor concussion, and probably break the front suspension and frame. If you watch enough race footage you will see that most top teams let up on the throttle just before the jump, brake slightly, and try to roll over the top of the jump without catching air. Accelerate down the landing ramp.

This Tabletop jump is right by the paved oval track and should be right in front of a small set of bleachers for spectators during the race. It's a great place to get videos of cars overshooting and lawn-darting. Otherwise, watching the race there can get boring.

Consider placing your team members at the Tabletop to flag/signal the driver into the pits if there isn't enough time to see the signs while approaching the actual pits.

Railroad Tracks[edit]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfw4gEKc5CU&t=371

Immediately after the Tabletop jump is a short section of railroad tracks you must cross. Do not take these at full speed. They are not set perpendicular to the course, so try to steer the car before and after them so you can cross more perpendicular. Do not cross the tracks as fast as you might a log or railroad tie. The steel rails will damage your tires and wheels because of how sharp and hard they are. BRING SPARE WHEELS AND TIRES specifically because of this obstacle.

Woods, Pits, and return to the Start[edit]

The course returns to the woods after the RR tracks. The course is narrow here and has some small obstacles to cross. It will be difficult to pass until you get to the field where you started and the course widens significantly.


Other Info[edit]

Where to stay[edit]

For the 2015 competition, the team stayed at:

Quality Inn 2283 South College Street Auburn, AL 36832 (~20 minutes from NCAT) (~15.5 hours from UR)

This was a nice hotel and conveniently located next to a Waffle House. There was on-site parking available for the Penske Truck. The hotel was also a short drive from Auburn University's College Town which has an array of restaurants.

On the drive home, the team stopped in Knoxville, TN and stayed at:

Super 8 341 Merchants Drive 1-75 Exit 108 Knoxville, TN 37912-3804 (~4.5 hours from Auburn) (~11 hours from UR) This hotel did provide free breakfast.

Where to eat[edit]

Parts stores[edit]