Change the world

After more than two years of determined effort by a dedicated team of students NMMU Racing became the first South African University team to design, build and race a Formula Student car!

NMMU Racing participated in the Knysna Hillclimb race 22-24 October 2010, as a precursor to the Formula Student Germany competition in August 2011.

Knysna Hillclimb

We were met with a great deal of enthusiasm by the organisers of the Hillclimb, who provided us with a free entry into the race. Due to the open format of the Hillclimb, it was an ideal testing ground for our vehicle, while providing the opportunity of displaying our Formula Student car to the South African motorsport community.

As the race weekend drew closer, the pace of work escalated to the point where the team worked through many nights to resolve component and assembly issues.

Other last-minute issues to be resolved included new brake discs that were laser cut by Lasertech the day before the race, while the exhaust system, hand-built by Graham from Coker Race Products in Cape Town, was personally delivered to the team in Knysna on Saturday morning! A frame covering was fitted in lieu of a full vehicle body, which was not ready in time, allowing us to display our team and sponsor’s logos on the vehicle.

On the Saturday morning of the race, the car was wheeled out into the street for the first test drive, and after starting the engine, the vehicle slowly rolled down the road under its own power for the first time, followed by shouts of excitement and tears of joy and relief!

We arrived at the Hillclimb race full of enthusiasm and after competing registration, had to undergo scrutineering, to check the safety aspects of the vehicle. Some concerns were raised by the organisers due to the fact that the vehicle had not been adequately tested prior to the event, but they agreed to let us drive the course as a demonstration, at a moderate pace.

Our turn eventually arrived and the vehicle bust into life at the starting line, completing the 2km course without incident, except for the engine cutting out on the return trip, which was fortunately mostly downhill!

There was a great deal of interest shown in the vehicle by fellow competitors and spectators, who were very impressed with the fact that the car was entirely designed and built by the students themselves.

With many obstacles to overcome, there were times then the team felt overwhelmed by the challenge, but through sheer determination and teamwork, we were able to meet our objective of competing in the Knysna Hillclimb race, thereby becoming the first South African University to successfully design and build a Formula Student racing car!