May 24, 2014 4:30PM
In addition to the teams, faculty advisers and members of the community watching the SAE Baja-Kansas competition at Pittsburg State University this weekend, there are a number of parents and family members who have made the trip to Pittsburg to cheer on the competitors.
One of those parents is Karla Powers, who drove with her husband from Colorado Springs, Colo., to watch their son, James, compete on a team from the University of Rochester (New York). It was the first time that James had been in a competition within a drivable distance, she said.
The Powers watched with others cheering on the University of Rochester team Saturday morning as the car James Powers was driving prepared for a second run on the maneuverability course. Just before the start, however, it was clear something was wrong. Team members quickly sprang into action, pushing the car back to the university’s paddock where repairs could be made.
Proud mom Karla Powers watches the maneuverability course Saturday.
Unexpected problems, breakdowns and repairs are part of the Baja experience. Across the competition area and in the paddocks, numerous teams were working on their vehicles.
Karla Powers said he son couldn’t be more committed to the event.
“He’s so excited about this,” Powers said. “They’re really proud this year because...they got through yesterday’s tests without having to go back and do something again. That makes them feel like they’ve already won.
Sheryl Gracewski, faculty adviser for the University of Rochester SAE Baja, said about 18 members of the team made the trip to Pittsburg, but more than 30 students played a role in the preparation.
“Our team has been really organized,” Gracewski said. “There has been a lot of enthusiasm for working on the car.”
Both Powers and Gracewski said the community has made them feel welcome.
“Everyone’s been so friendly,” Powers said.
Gracewski added that whether its employees at the motel or people at the hardware store where they went for supplies, “everyone’s trying to help out.”
Competitors tested their cars in maneuverability, acceleration, sled pull and suspension Saturday. The SAE Baja-Kansas concludes on Sunday, May 25, with the Endurance Race, which begins at 9:30 a.m.
The UCLA team climbs an obstacle in the suspension test, Saturday.
More than one competitor had to be rescued from the tough suspension test.