Tennessee Tech ready to defend home turf in Baja international competition

The 2019 Tennessee Tech Baja team consists of (front row, from left) Craig Bowen, William Hafner, Miles Nevills, Brandon McCarter; (middle row, from left) Abraham Orantes, Isaac Baird (in car), Maxavier Lamantia; (back row, from left) Chris Mills, Zane Mills, Dr. Dale Wilson and Luke Morgan.

COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech has been at the forefront of Baja competitions for several years. So much so, the Tech Baja team is the most successful Baja team in the world.

“I have been the faculty advisor since 2000 and been involved in Tech Baja since 1988. Over the history of that time, we have won 12 championships,” said Dale Wilson, mechanical engineer professor and Baja faculty advisor. “No other school is close to winning that many championships.”

The Tech Baja team will be looking for its 13th international championship next week when Tech hosts the Baja Society of Automotive Engineers International competition April 11-14 at Tech’s Hyder-Burks Agricultural Pavilion.

“We have been talking about this all year,” said Wilson about hosting the competition. “This is our home turf. We want to protect our home turf. We always want to win, but it is important for us to be in the top 10.”

This is the eighth time Tech has hosted the international competition. The last time Tech welcomed the world of Baja was in 2016, finishing just out of the top 10 in 11th place.

“We’ve been on the international stage for a long time now. We are used to it,” said Max Lamantia, a senior mechanical engineering major and co-captain of the team. “We haven’t won a race since 2011. We are looking forward to winning another race to put under our belts this year and we would love to do that at Tennessee Tech.”

In order to win the international competition, Tech will have to battle teams from India, Mexico, Canada and China besides all the other teams from around the nation. The competition consists of students designing and building small off-road cars with engines of the same specifications. The cars are put through a series of tests, including an endurance race which includes harsh elements and rough terrain.

“It’s going to be a pretty big race,” said Craig Bowen, a junior mechanical engineering major who is also a co-captain of the team. “We have over 100 teams coming from all over the world. It’s a very good experience. It would mean the world to us to be able to win it here at Tennessee Tech.”

Tech will be competing against 99 other teams when the four-day competition begins next Thursday. The event wraps up with the popular endurance race on Sunday, April 14.

 “Our student team is very excited,” said Wilson. “We have a very young team. We have a great group of young men and women. They are trying very hard.”

For more information on the competition, go to: https://www.sae.org/attend/student-events/baja-sae-tennessee-tech/.

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