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University of Toledo, other college engineering teams create race cars

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From the University of Toledo engineering team, A.J. Lesiecki talks strategy with driver Will Benson as part of a Formula race car event at Owens Community College.

The Blade/Matt Thompson
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Will Benson sat behind the wheel of the University of Toledo's engineering students' Formula race car this week and in an instant he was gone, weaving through cones and slamming on  brakes back at the starting circle. 

Four engineering teams met with IMCO, a Perrysburg company that sells precision cutting tools, for an event at Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township to show off their race cars and do a final tune-up before the annual Formula SAE event today through Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. 

"It is like no street car I've ever driven," Mr. Benson said while sitting behind the wheel gearing up for his next run. He is senior at UT from North Olmsted.

The eight UT students have been working on the race car for a year. Last May they began designing it; in December the design plans were finalized, and the car was built by April. 

"It can go from 0 to 60 [miles per hour] in three and a half seconds," said Dale Hamberg said, a UT senior from Coldwater. "It has a [governor] on it but it tops out at 85 to 90 [mph]."

PHOTO GALLERY: UT engineering students test Formula race car

IMCO rented the track from Owens and hosted three other teams as well from the University of Cincinnati, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and a Brazilian team called Formula FEI. 

The connection with IMCO started when the South Dakota team asked for cutting tools to be donated last year to build a car. After completion the team brought the car to IMCO but could not show off the race car's moves in the IMCO parking lot. So IMCO Vice President Matt Osburn wanted to open up this event to see the cars in action.

"We spent two or three hours setting up the cones Saturday and we thought we'd take the car through it," Mr. Osburn said. "It took three and a half to four minutes. These cars can do it in 30 seconds. [It's] insane."

With spending a year to make the Toledo car, the engineering students don't let just anyone drive it. The extracurricular group has a rule: you have to work on the car for at least year to drive it. That way, you respect the work that goes into it.

"It is always nerve wracking when you're driving," Mr. Benson said. "Every team feels bad when another team wrecks."

But he said once you get going it is all adrenaline and fun whipping the race car around.

Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com or 419-356-8786 or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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