Penn Electric Racing Heating Up on Road to Nebraska

Engineering’s Penn Electric Racing team, led by team captain Dan Shanks, and co-managers Sina Golkari and Connor Sendel, continued their success in racing competitions by winning the Electric Vehicle division at the 2017 Formula North competition in Barrie, Ontario.

The competition features both conventional gasoline-powered cars and electric race cars, and scores both in a series of categories, from safety requirements and budgetary measures to technical specifications and actual on-road performance. The field was narrowed down before the contest began; 31 gasoline-powered cars and 13 electric race cars registered, but the final line-up included just 25 gas and 6 electric cars, as several teams were not able to complete their vehicles on time.

Penn Electric Racing and Carnegie Mellon were the only electric teams that satisfied all the technical and safety requirements, and Penn was the only electric car that completed the four dynamic events — acceleration, skidpad, autocross and the 23 kilometer endurance race. The Penn team also won the static event competition with 302 points out of a possible 325, finishing first in cost, second in design and third in the business presentation. Penn’s winning score for the combined static and dynamic events was 853 points out of 875, with Quebec’s Université Laval coming in second with 268 and Carnegie Mellon third with 208.

Penn Electric Racing captain Dan Shanks competes in the 23 kilometer endurance event.

With so few other electric racers able to compete in all categories, the Penn Electric Racing program compares its progress with the top gasoline-powered cars. In the acceleration event, a 75-meter standing start drag race, Cheryl Liu’s time of 3.826 seconds was the fastest of all 27 gas and electric cars. This repeated the success at the 2016 Formula SAE Competition in Lincoln, Nebraska, where PER driver Liam Cook had the fastest time in a field of more than one hundred cars. In the skidpad event, which measures handling on tight turns, drivers Matt Mendivil and Sumil Majithia took the Penn team to 14th among the gasoline cars. The team finished 8th amongst gas cars in the endurance run, with Liam Cook and Dan Shanks driving the first and second legs respectively. Combining the scores of the dynamic events, Penn placed 8th overall.

“Competing in Formula North was partly seen by the team as a warm-up and trial run for the major event of the season, the Formula SAE competition in Lincoln, Nebraska later this month,” said team faculty advisor Andrew Jackson, Professor of Practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics.

Penn Electric Racing will compete there from June 21–24; 80 gas and 30 electric racers are currently registered.