Zips Racing Team places in world's top 10


AFTER RECENTLY COMPETING with and besting some of the more than 500 Formula SAE collegiate race teams internationally, the Zips Racing Team emerged among the world's top 10, the nation's top five and as the Midwest's No. 1.

Just back from Germany, the team’s sleek racecar, the ZR13, is getting a full checkup before it leaves for the Oct. 16 University of Toronto Shootout, a racing competition unaffiliated with SAE International. As they prepare for the Toronto competition, the Zips Racing Team plans to refine and tinker with the ZR13 to improve its aerodynamics, groom up-and-coming drivers and adjust the engine to changes in the weather.

“Between now and our race in Toronto, we’ll be training new drivers and tuning the engine for the cooler fall temperatures,” says Ryan Kruse, team manager and a senior mechanical engineering major. “Toronto will bring a new challenge with track speeds higher than those at events at which we’ve raced the ZR13.”

SAE International, formerly known as the Society for Automotive Engineers, governs the worldwide Formula SAE program and praised UA’s students for their well-rounded skills that it believes will help them in their future careers.

‘Akron gets it’

“In addition to this competition being about engineering design, it also focuses on developing business soft skills like project management and Akron gets it. Hands-on engineering experience coupled with learned soft skills provides team members of UA’s FSAE team with a leg up on other job candidates after graduation. That’s what our program is designed to do – bridge education and career,” says Kaley Zundel, SAE International collegiate program manager. “The University of Akron has been participating in Formula SAE since 1990. With such a history, SAE International expects nothing less than excellence from teams who compete year after year. Akron has a great engineering program coupled with bright, motivated students and supportive faculty. They increase our program’s value yearly as they continue to take on the challenge of designing, fabricating and competing within the academic year.”

The ranking for the team, known as Zips Racing, and ZR13, is based on the results of several competitions and events, including the Formula Student Germany – Pure Combustion Event. The ZR13 placed sixth overall for on-track performance categories such as acceleration, autocross, skid-pad and endurance; and off-track for cost, design and marketing.

Improved design for 2013

“The 2013 car is a brand new design with attention to weight, aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. With these key improvements, we were able to make a great leap in performance at the two most competitive races on the calendar,” says Kruse, noting that the ZR13, 15 percent lighter than last year’s race car, ranked third overall at Formula SAE Michigan in May.

Zips Racing

Led by faculty adviser Richard Gross, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, the students began the yearlong process last fall when they developed a computer-aided design of the ZR13, taking into account everything from electronics to engine to brakes. The ZR13’s thoughtful design, specifically with regard to vehicle dynamics, led to its current victory sweep, says Kruse.

Cars in Formula SAE racing are judged on such factors as cost, innovation, acceleration, design and other aspects. Students spend thousands of hours working on the vehicles and in the process learn skills in aerodynamics, chassis construction and mechanical engineering as well as business development and fund raising.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or